In 2005 my people, the Dutch, rejected the European Constitution in a referendum.
But the European Union made some cosmetic changes to the text and, by 2009, forced it down our throat anyway as the “Treaty of Lisbon”. And so, we learned an important lesson. The EU is neither transparent nor democratic, and disregards the will of our people.
Last April in a consultative referendum, the Dutch rejected the Association Treaty between the EU and Ukraine. Guess what? It is deja-vu all over again.
After the referendum, rather than pulling the plug on the treaty the Europhile ruling elites in the EU member states, including those in my own country, try to continue as if nothing has happened.
This blatant disrespect of the EU’s political elites for national democracy and sovereignty is one of the major reasons why my party is advocating NExit, a Dutch withdrawal from the EU. Indeed, we want to follow the British example because, like you, we believe that exit is the only honorable thing to do.
We must save our democracy.
In 2012, my party, the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the independent research institute Lombard Street Research (LSR) to ascertain what the cost of a Dutch euro-exit would be. Unlike Britain, which was wise enough to retain the Pound while the Netherlands gave up the Dutch Guilder, we need to take the additional hurdle of a Eurozone exit.
LSR calculated that euro-exit would cost us money in the first two years after exit, but we would benefit from the third year onward. Moreover, there are several political advantages as well. We will be able to conduct our own monetary policy again and we will no longer be forced to contribute to the costly and ineffective eurozone bail-outs.
Two years ago, in 2014, the PVV asked another renowned research institute, Capital Economics (CE), to look for us into the cost of EU exit. CE’s findings, stress-tested and based on conservative assumptions, are that NExit will boost the Dutch economy with an additional 13% by 2035.
We will be able to scrap EU payments (The Netherlands is the largest EU net contributor), cut back on costly EU regulations, conduct our own budget and fiscal policies so that we can lower taxes, and trade more with the rest of the world.
Above all, we will once again be a truly free and sovereign democracy, and no longer a province of an undemocratic pan-European superstate in the making.
True to its undemocratic nature, the EU does not like it to see countries leave the pan-European prison. That is why Brussels is currently bullying Britain, threatening that Brexit will have a negative impact on UK trade because the EU will not give Britain easy access to its markets.
But, as everyone knows who ever had to deal with bullies, one should never give in to their threats. Britain is Germany’s third largest trading partner, France’s fourth largest trading partner, my own country’s fourth largest partner.
After Brexit, the UK will remain the largest trading partner of goods of the EU. Hence, it is in the interest of the EU itself to give the UK access to its markets. If it doesn’t, the EU member states will severely harm themselves.
Only fools will harm themselves because they want to punish others. And while it is true that fools reign in Brussels, the EU countries on our side of the Channel and the North Sea will not harm their own economies because Brussels demands them to do so.
It is in their interest to keep trading with Britain in the best possible circumstances. This is why the UK will not get a bad deal, but will get the best deal possible.
Of course, the governments on our side of the Channel are telling you otherwise. They do not want to encourage their own peoples to follow the British example and liberate themselves from Brussels. But, believe me, Britain has been a pioneer.
You are the first to leave, but you will not be the last. I hope the Netherlands will soon follow. Europe’s Patriot Spring is not over yet. It is just beginning.
Geert Wilders MP is a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV)