Prime Minister of The Netherlands. That was what I wanted to be when I was 15. I had the ambition to make my country the best it could be. No, not #MNLGA (Make NL Great Again). No more slavery or colonisation. Simply a great place to live, where people are happy and can make anything they wish from their lives.
Apart from the fact that I walked a different path in in life, the ambition has gone now. It is, or at least should be, a job that will permanently move to the history books soon. Prime Minister of The Netherlands is a job where you should have very little to say. The macro-economic rules are set in Brussels at the EU level. Fortunately. Borders are more and more invisible. Not only if you drive from one EU member state to the next, but also in areas as diverse as trade, crime, environment, love. Things that matter in the daily life of Dutch citizens — garbage collection, health care, art — is more and more delegated to local governments: cities and municipalities. To me that seems like a great model. What touches us daily is taken care of by people close to us, the rules for the stuff that acts as if there are no borders are made and upheld by professionals at the supra national level. The EU is, with its imperfections, a wonderful example of multinational cooperation.
Take startups for example. We see nations and cities compete with each other, but if you visit a coworking space in Helsinki, or Tallinn, or Riga, or Warsaw, or Athens, or Barcelona, or Düsseldorf or Amsterdam, you’re bound to run into a multitude of nationalities. Practically anywhere, international english is the main or second language spoken. And that’s a good thing.
Let’s take the Facebook and privacy situation. In Europe, in general, there’s a very different attitude towards privacy. But because we think our countries are islands, we came up with competition to the American behemoths that were limited by our national borders. The EU should be our target market. It’s bigger than the US in population. Thinking on that level, will help us to start companies that are in the same league as the American super corps such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.
No, I no longer want to be the Prime Minister of The Netherlands. I rather be someone who helps startup teams to think European.