Frederik "Frits" Bolkestein (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfreːdərɪk frɪdz ˈbɔlkəstɛi̯n] (listen); born 4 April 1933) is a retired Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and businessman.
Bolkestein attended the Barlaeus Gymnasium in Amsterdam from June 1945 until June 1951 and applied at the Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon June 1951 majoring in Mathematics and obtaining an Bachelor of Mathematics degree in June 1953 before transferring to the University of Amsterdam graduating with an Master of Mathematics degree in July 1955. Bolkestein continued to study at the University of Amsterdam for a postgraduate education in Philosophy, Greek literature graduating with an Master of Philosophy degree and an Master of Arts in Philosophy degree in April 1959. Bolkestein applied at the London School of Economics of the University of London in May 1959 for a postgraduate education in Economics graduating with an Master of Economics degree in June 1963. Bolkestein subsequently applied at the Leiden University in June 1963 for another postgraduate education in Law graduating with an Master of Laws degree in July 1965. Bolkestein worked as a corporate director for Royal Dutch Shell from May 1960 until September 1976 as a operations manager in Nairobi, Kenya from May 1960 until June 1964 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from June 1964 until July 1965 in San Salvador, El Salvador from July 1965 until September 1968 in London, England from September 1968 until January 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia from January 1970 until March 1972 and as Chief operating officer (COO) of Shell Chemicals in Asia, Oceania and the Middle East from March 1972 until April 1973 and as chief operating officer of Shell Chemicals in Europe from April 1973 until July 1976.
Bolkestein became a Member of the House of Representatives after Henk Koning was appointed as State Secretary for the Interior in the Cabinet Van Agt–Wiegel after the election of 1977, taking office on 16 January 1978. After the election of 1982 Bolkestein was appointed as State Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Cabinets Lubbers I, taking office on 5 November 1982. After the election of 1986 Bolkestein returned as a Member of the House of Representatives, taking office on 3 June 1986. Following the cabinet formation of 1986 Bolkestein was not giving a cabinet post in the new cabinet, the Cabinet Lubbers I was replaced by the Cabinet Lubbers II on 14 July 1986 and he continued to serve in the House of Representatives as a frontbencher. Bolkestein was appointed as Minister of Defence in the Cabinet Lubbers II following the resignation of Wim van Eekelen, taking office on 24 September 1988. After the election of 1989 Bolkestein returned as a Member of the House of Representatives, taking office on 14 September 1989. The Cabinet Lubbers II was replaced by the Cabinet Lubbers III following the cabinet formation of 1989 on 7 November 1989.
After the Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Parliamentary leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy in the House of Representatives Joris Voorhoeve announced he was stepping down as Leader and Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives following the defeat in the election, Bolkestein announced his candidacy to succeed Voorhoeve and was subsequently elected as Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Parliamentary leader in the House of Representatives, taking office on 30 April 1990. For the election of 1994 Bolkestein served as Lijsttrekker (top candidate). The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy made a large win, gaining 9 seats and now had 33 seats in the House of Representatives. The following cabinet formation of 1994 resulted in a coalition agreement between the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Labour Party (PvdA) and the Democrats 66 (D66) which formed the Cabinet Kok I with Bolkestein opting to remain in the House of Representatives instead of accepting a cabinet post in the new cabinet and he continued to serve in the House of Representatives as Parliamentary leader. Bolkestein also served as President of the Liberal International from 15 April 1996 until 18 April 2000. For the election of 1998 Bolkestein again served as Lijsttrekker (top candidate). The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy made another large win, gaining 7 seats and became the second largest party for the first time and now had 38 seats in the House of Representatives. On 30 July 1998 shortly after the election Bolkestein announced he was stepping down as Leader and Parliamentary leader but continued to serve in the House of Representatives as a backbencher. The following cabinet formation of 1998 resulted in a continuation of the coalition agreement between the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Labour Party and the Democrats 66 which formed the Cabinet Kok II with Bolkestein again opting to remain in the House of Representatives instead of accepting a cabinet post in the new cabinet.
In August 1999 Bolkestein was nominated as the next European Commissioner from the Netherlands. Bolkestein was giving the heavy portfolios of Internal Market and Services and Taxation and Customs in the Prodi Commission, he was installed as European Commissioner, serving from 16 September 1999 until 22 November 2004 and resigned as a Member of the House of Representatives on 21 September 1999.
Early life and career
Frederik Bolkestein was born on 4 April 1933 in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His father was president of the Court in Amsterdam. His grandfather, Gerrit Bolkestein, was Minister of Education, Arts, and Sciences to the Dutch government-in-exile of 1939 to 1945. Bolkestein's mother was born in the Dutch East Indies to Dutch parents.
Bolkestein attended the Barlaeus Gymnasium in Amsterdam from 1945 to 1951, where he majored in both arts and sciences. Upon completing his gymnasium education, he was an undergraduate in mathematics at Oregon State College from 1951 to 1953. Subsequently, he went to the University of Amsterdam, where he received a BSc degree in mathematics and physics in 1955. In 1959, he received a MA degree in philosophy and Greek from the same university. Bolkestein subsequently received a BSc degree from The London School of Economics in 1963, and an LLM degree from Leiden University in 1965.
Before entering Dutch politics, Bolkestein worked for the oil company Royal Dutch Shell from 1960 to 1975. During this period he was assigned to postings in East Africa, Honduras and El Salvador, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and France. In Paris, he served on the board of the Shell Chimie from 1973 to 1975. During his tenure with Shell, he completed the first part of the economics program at the London School of Economics in 1964 and he also completed a law degree at Leiden University, graduating in 1965.
Bolkestein left Shell in 1976 and became a member of parliament for the VVD. From 1982–1986, he served as Minister of International Trade. After joining the parliament again, he was Minister of Defence from 1988–1989. In 1990, he was elected Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy of the VVD, a position he held until 1998. Between 1978 and 1999, when he became European Commissioner, he was member of parliament for 17 years.
During the 1990s, he was very successful as the political frontman of the VVD. As an opinion leader, he was known for his daring and controversial positions on such issues as multicultural problems in Dutch society, political dualism between government and parliament, and the structure and expansion of the European Union. From 1990–1994 he was the parliamentary opposition leader and continued his outspoken and independent style when his party was part of the government from 1994. During the provincial elections of 1995, his criticism of Dutch immigration policies made his party the largest of the country.
In 1996, his political integrity came under heavy criticism, because it was revealed he had written a letter to the Minister of Health Els Borst, in which he asked her to help a pharmaceutical company, of which Bolkestein was member of the board of commissioners. The incident was known as the "Dear Els"-incident, because the letter was addressed to Borst personally.
He was president of the Liberal International, the world federation of liberal political parties. Since Autumn 2004, he has been a professor at the Dutch universities of Leiden and Delft. Former Irish finance minister Charlie McCreevy succeeded him as Commissioner for the Internal Market.
He authored a number of books on politics and related subjects. Frits Bolkestein is married to Femke Boersma, a retired Dutch actress. In 2005, his house in northern France had its electricity cut briefly by the local energy company after he criticized French protectionist measures against incoming electricians from Eastern Europe.
Also, he is on the advisory board of OMFIF where he is regularly involved in meetings regarding the financial and monetary system.
Named after Frits Bolkestein, the Directive on services in the internal market aims at enabling a company from a given member-state to recruit workers in other European Union countries using the law of its home country. It triggered huge protests in Europe. This directive was voted in the European Parliament in March 2006 and the MEPs proposed amendments to the provisional text. The "principle of origin", which stipulates that workers are employed under the legal arrangements of their own state of residence, was replaced by a new "freedom" principle – freedom to provide services, meaning that administrative obstacles should be removed. The compromise allowed the draft Directive to continue to exist. However, there was a great deal of concern about its effect on social standards and welfare, triggering competition between various parts of Europe. This led to significant protests across Europe against the directive including a notable protest at the European Parliament in Strasbourg by port workers which led to damage to the building. MEPs eventually reached a compromise on the text and the Parliament adopted it on 12 December 2006; 2 years after Bolkestein left office, under the Barroso Commission.
In 2001, Bolkestein responded to the question raised by European MPs (MEP) Harlem Désir, Glyn Ford and Francis Wurtz, who asked the Commission to investigate the accusations brought forward by Révélation$, a book written by investigative journalist Denis Robert and former Clearstream member Ernest Backes, and to ensure that the 10 June 1990 directive (91/308 CE) on control of financial establishment be applied in all member states in an effective way. Commissioner Frits Bolkestein applied that "the Commission has no reason to date to believe that the Luxembourg authorities do not apply it vigorously" [sic]. The three MPs henceforth published a press statement asking the opening of an investigation by the European Union about the correct application of 10 June 1990 directive.
On 26 April 2006, French daily 20 minutes revealed that "in May 2005, MEP Paul van Buitenen was shocked by Frits Bolkestein's presence in Bank Menatep's international consultative council (owned by Russian magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky), a sulfurous Russian banking establishment, and by his work for Shell, British-Dutch petrol company. Two firms 'detaining secret accounts in Clearstream' ... Van Buitenen, also Dutch, then asked for 'clarification' to the European Commission and the opening of a parliamentary investigation. The Commission's president, José Manuel Barroso, answered that these facts "don't bring up any new question" and that it is not known "if Menatep took contact with Bolkestein while he was in his functions". No investigation thereby took place." The free daily underlines that "in 2001, it was Bolkestein himself that announced the Commission's refusal to open up a parliamentary investigation on Clearstream", following MEP Harlem Désir's requests and accusations that Menatep had an "undeclared account" at Clearstream. Bolkestein refused to answer any questions by the newspaper.
On 18 May 2010, Bolkestein advocated for the legalization of all drugs in an article called; "Red het land, sta drugs toe" which translates to; "save the nation, allow drugs" in the NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper. The article is endorsed by many professionals ranging from Els Borst, former Dutch minister of public health, to many jurists, professors and drug experts.
In Het Verval ("The Decline"), a book about Jews in the Netherlands written by Manfred Gerstenfeld, a Holocaust survivor and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Bolkestein is quoted as having said that practicing Jews had no future in the Netherlands, due to antisemitism among Turkish and particularly Moroccan immigrants, and that they should emigrate to the United States or Israel. Bolkestein's remarks, after having been published in a Dutch newspaper, raised a storm of criticism in December 2010. According to Ronny Naftaniel, head of the Jewish organisation CIDI, this was not the first time Bolkestein has expressed this view.
- (1976) Floris, Count of Holland as Niels Kobet
- (1982) Modern Liberalism
- (1990) De Engel en het Beest
- (1992) Woorden hebben hun betekenis
- (1994) Islam en Democratie with Mohammed Arkoun
- (1995) Het Heft in Handen
- (1997) Moslim in de Polder
- (1998) Boren in hard Hout
- (1998) Onverwerkt Verleden
- (2004) De Grenzen van Europa
- (2005) Grensverkenningen
- (2006) De twee lampen van de staatsman
- (2006) Peut-on réformer la France?
- (2008) Overmoed en onverstand
- (2009) De politiek der dingen
- (2011) De goede vreemdeling
- (2011) De intellectuele verleiding (The Intellectual Temptation)
- (2013) Cassandra tegen wil en dank
- (2015) De succesvolle mislukking van Europa, co-edited with Paul Cliteur and Meindert Fennema
- Frits in isolation: [frɪts]
- "Prof.Mr.Drs. F. Bolkestein". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- "Biografie: Frits Bolkestein" (in Dutch). Nova. 25 September 2003. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
- "G. Bolkestein". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Leiden University. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- Dutch: De Groene Amsterdammer: De politieke roots van Geert Wilders
- Bolkestein, Frits. "List of published books". Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- Provinciale Staten 8 maart 1995 at www.verkiezingsuitslagen.nl
- IT has key economic role, says new EC president Computer Weekly16 August 2004
- (in French) Harlem Désir's official website Archived 3 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine (European MPs Harlem Désir, Glyn Ford and Francis Wurtz press statement about the $1.5 trillion math error & Denis Robert and Ernest Backes' book "Revelation$" and a 9 May 2001 op-ed in Le Monde titled "Les 'boîtes noires' de la mondialisation financière" ("The black box of financial globalization") by Bernard Bertossa, attorney general in Geneva, Benoît Dejemeppe, king's attorney in Brussels (procureur du roi, procureur des konings), Eva Joly, investigative magistrate in Paris, Jean de Maillard, magistrate in Blois and Renaud van Ruymbeke, judge in Paris)
- (in English) / (in French) "André Lussi, CEO of Clearstream, stepping down – interview of Denis Robert" (PDF). Tobin tax. June 2001.
- "Révélation 20 Minutes: Quand la Commission européenne refusait d'enquêter sur Clearstream" (in French). 20 minutes. 26 April 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2006.
- Peter Wierenga (5 December 2010). "Bolkestein: 'Joden, emigreer!'" (in Dutch). De Pers. Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
- Cnaan Liphshiz (7 December 2010). "Top Dutch politician: Jews should emigrate to Israel or U.S." Haaretz. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
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|Party political offices|
| Leader of the People's Party
for Freedom and Democracy
| Parliamentary leader of the |
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
in the House of Representatives
| Lijsttrekker of the
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
1994 • 1998
| State Secretary for
With: Piet van Zeil
| Minister of Defence
Relus ter Beek
Sir David Steel
| President of the
Hans van den Broek
| European Commissioner
from the Netherlands