In memorial of Ieke van den Burg
Ieke van den Burg is not any longer among us. She passed away an early morning, after her very last long fight for life and the work, to which she was so devoted. She worked so intensively through her life for what she believed in. The Trade Union movement, which she rightly argued, is and has always been one of the fundamental forces to create and defend our welfare states – in spite of globalization, financial market-crisis and failed economic policy-response through austerity. Again and again arguing for a new direction in Europe, our common PES positions. Same focus and loyalty in her work with corporate governance, Social Policy and workers participation.
In the European Parliament, she made many excellent results as S&D group coordinator on economics. We worked so close together these years. On creating our common Report on the need for financial regulation of Hedge-funds and Private Equity. It did place the PES in the center of the debate on the need to regulate the greediness of financial markets. For Ieke it was important to underline: “From the outset, we insisted that this report should not be based on feelings …but on facts and a very clear commitment to the future of Europe… the New Social Europe” – these words in the report are typical Ieke's words, her way of working, Strengthening the respect for her work among colleagues in all parties of the European Parliament and outside. Even the Financial Lobbyists listened to Ieke – she knew the stuff and all the details as good as they did! This work was a very important contribution to the first EU-regulation of Hedge-funds and Private Equity Funds, as a broad compromise in the EP.
She was part of that little group of people who saw the financial crisis coming and warned about it. And later chair of the newly established Finance Watch, which gives all progressives better possibilities in following what is going on at the financial markets.
Whether in European Parliament or in the political work of PES we could always count on the unlimited support of Ieke. Now, we have lost Ieke, but not her ideas, work and results to the benefit of ordinary workers, our welfare states – and the whole of PES. Ieke was a political frontrunner, not as much to promote herself, but always to promote the case, our common ideas. A wonderful, strong, emphatic politician, without a big ego.
Ieke has made a real difference for me, PES and all progressives. In our fundamental solidarity in all its aspects. I am, on behalf of PES, so grateful for the time she dedicated to our common course. PES and I have lost a friend. Our hearts and minds are with Ieke's family. We will not forget.
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen,
Former President of The PES