Liberals. It is my pleasure to welcome you all in the Netherlands. Welcome in Utrecht! This weekend you will stay in the fourth biggest city of the Netherlands, the very centre of our small and busy country. Within 2 hours from here you can reach any far corner in the Netherlands the train station that you arrived at is the busiest in the Netherlands. And of course, I am proud of this city because Utrecht is my hometown.
Liberals. It is my pleasure to welcome you all in the Netherlands. Welcome in Utrecht!
This weekend you will stay in the fourth biggest city of the Netherlands, the very centre of our small and busy country. Within 2 hours from here you can reach any far corner in the Netherlands the train station that you arrived at is the busiest in the Netherlands. And of course, I am proud of this city because Utrecht is my hometown.
So, of course, You have arrived in the most beautiful city of the Netherlands.
Totally wrong are those who consider Utrecht to be just a small silly version of Amsterdam. When the Celts and the Franks were still fooling around in the swamps where Amsterdam is now, Utrecht was inhabited by civilized Romans.
However, youll find some things here that Amsterdam is famous for. Just like Amsterdam, Utrecht has history, canals and windmills. And well, to be complete: here you can find bars, clubs, drugs and prostitutes. But we do not have Amsterdam arrogance, or overloads of tourists. Utrecht is the genuine Dutch city. You, guys and girls, are so lucky to be in Utrecht!
This weekend, you will discuss a range of issues that concern the future of Europe. Politics is about changing the future. Nothing more, nothing less. My organization, the Young Democrats, has an almost thirty year long history in changing politics and trying to make the world a better place. We are progressive, we renounce dogmatic thinking. We despise short term political gains. We want real politics, not only for today, but also for tomorrow. We want future proof policies.
Right now, a storm is slowly raging over Holland. The Dutch political landscape is taken hostage by quick-gain, conservative politicians. Every debate and every position either left or right, is overtaken by dogmatic thinking of an aging population with short-term stakes.
Old men and women after their working life want peace of mind. They fear what they do not know: foreigners, change and the future. A graying society becomes more conservative, more willing to stick to old habits. Can we blame them for their wishes? No, we cannot.
However, every young liberal is a gatekeeper to a better tomorrow, whereas the elderly only want, a nice today.
The Netherlands has five problems: housing, healthcare, education, climate and pensions.
First, housing. Our housing market is an overregulated system in which young people cannot find any affordable housing.
Healthcare. In 15 years, the costs of healthcare will double. The Dutch leaders have had no plans so far to really reduce the vast rising costs.
Education. Clearly in an aging society, money should be invested in education. However, since 1980 not even one extra penny has been spent on education, per student. And the current government will not do so either.
Climate and sustainability. Climate is not on the to do list of the current government. The Dutch believe they are sustainability-kings, but they are not. Only four percent of our energy comes from renewable sources.
Last but not least, Pensions. The current pension system is unaffordable, and should therefore be reformed. When I will be 60, there will be no pension left for my generation. Now, finally, also other parties do see something has to be done, however still nothing really happens. That is why the Young Democrats recently launched a new initiative, presenting a new pension system.
Another solution is to raise the retirement age, we should work until our 69th. However, our current government lacks any intent to bring us a brighter future. The populist Geert Wilders has taken this government hostage, makes it seem as if the older generation can work until their 63rd of 65th. He pushes problems forward into the future, so we will have to work maybe until our 75th.
In a nutshell: our leaders have done nothing for too long. The problems are now so vast, they are afraid of the solutions that are needed to solve them. In the end, they ignore both problems and solutions, and with it the people who address the first and suggest the second. They ignore us.
My point is: the silent crisis that is happening right now, must lead to inevitable reforms. However, the Dutch government negotiated for power, not for ideals. From them we can only expect rhetoric, not decisions. The Young Democrats are against this. D66, our mother party, is our partner in this battle. We have been fighting and we will keep fighting - for real youth influence.
We are proud to see the resolution on the generation gap, which we will discuss this weekend. Not only in the Netherlands, but all over Europe, young generations have to deal with challenges that are ignored by older rulers. Our ideals should be put forward mainly, as they represent the ideals for the endless generations to come. Solidarity between generations should be restored, our governments and the European Union can and must take that lead.
Here, we need leadership and action, however, solutions are needed everywhere. The Young Democrats are concerned with the armed conflicts around us. We have mixed feelings when we look at the Middle-East and North-Africa: will the result in the end be worth all the violence right now? One thing prevails. The call for representative, trustworthy and accountable statesmen, and a parliamentary system that represents all people, must be heard, must be answered. The EU must act.
Liberals, I´ll come to the end of my speech. We are the generation that grew up after 1989. We grew up after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Time continued, as certain and uncertain as it ever was and ever will be. We, young as we are, we hold the keys to changing the decades ahead of us. We are the gatekeepers of a better tomorrow.
Every one of our organizations really matters, because we tend to look further ahead.
As for me, I am very proud for my organization to host this congress, together with the JOVD. I wish you a great weekend, full of inspiring initiatives and challenging political debates. And tonight and tomorrow night of course the best LYMEC-partynights you have ever had.
We are young. We have ideals. We have time on our side.