Frans Timmermans has warned of a possible 'nationalism hangover' if EU fails to engage
Frans Timmermans has called on the ranks of the EU’s leadership to pull together and win over young people, before the after effects of the bloc’s battle begin to cause a headache.
Mr Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, insisted the Union will survive because young people are “instinctively European” but outlined Europhiles must take action now.
He compared voters turning to nationalism, with turning to alcohol.
He said: “It works a bit like alcoholism. It might feel good in the evening, but you wake up with a horrible hangover the next morning.
“Let’s be clear: a nationalist is not a patriot. Why is [the Russian president] Vladimir Putin a supporter of the nationalists in Europe? Because they weaken us. A true patriot is also a European.”
Mr Timmermans said the EU needs to speak to people’s “hopes and plans for tomorrow”.
But remains convinced young people will reunite the bloc.
Frans Timmermans believes young people will save the bloc
European nations are in a battle with nationalism which the bloc 'must' address – commissioner
He told Dutch newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung: “Young people say they don’t like the institutions, which is fine because these are just instruments, but for them Europe is the space in which they live, travel and understand each other.”
“I’m from Limburg, near the German border.
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“My parents married in 1959 and came to Amsterdam on honeymoon.
“That was a huge thing event for them. Now my children fly off for the weekend to Riga, Prague or Barcelona.”
The comments came just days before Europeans will gather in Italy to mark 60 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome.
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The former Dutch foreign minister said Europe must win over the people, and make them feel safe, or it “becomes part of the problem instead of the solution”.
He said: “It has become routine for national politicians to blame Europe.
“When something works, they claim it as their success. When something doesn’t work, then Europe is to blame. That has an impact.
“We are were so afraid of defending Europe from the heart that we defended it with rational arguments only … People don’t feel that. And politics should never be about yesterday or today but about hopes and plans for tomorrow.”
The Commissioner for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and Charter of Fundamental Rights also said the EU must come up with rational solutions for problems.
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) March 23, 2017
Frans Timmermans has warned of a 'populism hangover'
Those issues included “the energy crisis, the environmental crisis, the inequality in the world,” he said.
Mr Timmermans who attended an English school said the dramatic divorce between Britain and Europe would be a bumpy ride for all involved.
He said: “These are tectonic changes. And when tectonic plates start moving, somewhere there will be a couple of earthquakes. That is always the case.”