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/A Week on the Road with Executive Councilor for European Affairs Anita Bastiaans (and why the Faction is a little jealous).
Interesting idea, a European party in the council, but what does that look like in practice? That's a question I often get. To answer it well, it's good to know that there are two important aspects. Read on
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Mart Den Heijer
In Dutch politics, we work with dualism, which indicates the separation between legislative (city councils) and executive (executive councilors) power. Looking at our faction (Jules and I) and our executive councilor (Anita), this means that although we work on the same vision, we operate independently from each other. To make this possible, we actually have two separate agendas when it comes to doing politics. As a faction, we share a lot on social media and often appear in the news, but the work of the executive councilor often turns out to be less visible. That is probably also logical since they represent the city in their function and not one specific party or political movement.
As council members, we have different ways to be visible both within the political arena (for example by submitting questions, motions, or participating in meetings) and outside of it by sharing our commitment through traditional and social media. Within Volt, we like to take a few extra steps, which means you might see us appear a bit more in (online) media than the average faction in the council.
To give an insight into Anita's European week and show why we're a bit jealous, I asked Anita to share her agenda.
Anita's first European trip was to the Committee of the Regions, the voice of regions and cities within the EU. The main aim was to strengthen ties for the sake of our residents and bring Europe closer. When Anita talked about this meeting, we found out there is also a network for council members, the European network of regional and local council members. Jules and I, of course, immediately became members. Anita loves tangible results, so the next appointment is already scheduled, to look together at how to organise the best city dialogues, with the surprising theme: Europe.
Networking is crucial for cooperation within the region. Visibility for Maastricht among the right people is important. During the "Limburg drinks," Anita spoke with many Limburgers who work in Brussels or, like her, represent their city/province. This has established a solid foundation for future cooperation.
To close the week on a high note, Anita also met with Frans Weekers, the current Secretary General of the Benelux Union and former State Secretary for the VVD (the conservative liberals). This organisation focuses on three core themes: internal market & economic union, sustainable development, and justice & home affairs.
As you can see, we were actually afraid that we had lost Anita for a few weeks in Brussels, but luckily this was not the case ;). Anita has made a lot of new contacts to further establish Maastricht on the European map in the coming years!