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European Parliament elections 2019: Who is Frans Timmermans? And what does he stand for?

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Timmermans at a news conference in Brussels
Timmermans at a news conference in Brussels -
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Frans Timmermans is in the running to succeed Jean Claude Juncker and land the EU's top job.

We interviewed him ahead of European Parliament elections in May.

Here is our profile of him.

Who is Frans Timmermans?

Frans Timmermans is a Dutch politician, born in 1961 in the Netherlands. He studied French literature at Radboud University Nijmegen and European law and French literature at the Nancy-Université. He obtained a Master of European Law and an MA degree in French literature in 1985.

Career

Before entering politics, Timmermans was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Dutch Embassy at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990.

He then worked as Senior Advisor and Private Secretary to Max van der Stoel, the High Commissioner for National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Later, Timmermans was elected six times as a Member of the Dutch Labour Party from 1998 to 2007 and 2010 to 2012. He also served as Minister for Foreign affairs from 2012 to 2014 and Minister of European Affairs from 2007 to 2010.

He became Vice-President of the European Commission in November 2014, where he has led the EU's work on sustainability and is responsible for the adoption of the Circular Economy Strategy. He was involved in the EU's adoption of UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

What does he stand for?

Defend our values

Timmermans believes we need to improve and adapt the EU to the challenges it faces and will face in the future. He says we need to defend European values such as women's rights. He thinks other world powers are trying to impose their will upon Europe through commercial measures and weaken the bloc politically.

Equality, social justice and a 'feminist Europe'

Timmermans says he wants Europe to be a place where people care for one another, can live where they want, love whom they want and believe in what they want regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender and age.

He believes there should be no discrimination, and wants a binding EU Gender Equality Strategy to fight pay and pension gaps, gender-based violence and sexual harassment, and ensure everyone has equal access to their sexual and reproductive rights.

Sustainability

Timmermans wants to build a more sustainable Europe, based on the Circular Economy (an economic system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of our resources). He believes we need to change the way we live and use our resources more wisely to combat climate change.

Finding solutions through cooperation

He believes the EU should seek solutions through cooperation rather than confrontation. He says the Putin and Trump believe in 'rule by power', but the EU believes in 'the power of rules'. He says getting together to find solutions is more effective.

Migration

Timmermans believes migration issues should be dealt with differently. He thinks the EU should take a global approach when it comes to migration flows. He wants the EU to adopt a fair asylum and migration policy, based on shared responsibility and solidarity among member states.

Changing mindsets

Timmermans wants to change the way we see the future. He wants Europeans to see it as an opportunity, rather than a threat. On his website, he says: "We need hope... about our jobs, about the future of our children, about the things we share in a diverse society, about how we can limit climate change, manage migration, increase security. We should not allow fear to guide us."

Social media engagement

Timmermans has 197,183 followers on Facebook, 8,690 on Instagram and 105K on Twitter.

Below is one of his most outperforming posts on Facebook.

Fijne Valentijnsdag! Europa houdt ook van jou ?

Publiée par Frans Timmermans sur Jeudi 14 février 2019

Timmermans recently posted this on Instagram, captioned #ItsTime for a #feminist Europe.

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