Bars and discotheques saw their revenue drop by 25 to 30%, as customers voted with their feet and decided to stay home. This left many small pub owners with the prospect of losing their livelihood. With the predictable result that more and more pub owners decided to put the ashtrays back on the tables. Pub owners in some cities have formed 'anti-ban rings' in mutual support should one of their number be issued a fine for ignoring the ban.
Horeca Nederland, the umbrella organisation for the Dutch catering trade has asked minister Klink to get tough on what is says is unfair competition for establishments that are obeying the law. But also to compensate small pub owners for the loss of income. Last week the conference of the ruling Christian Democrat party rejected calls to exempt small cafes from the ban – which is what Belgium and Germany do.
But the minister is having none of it. Today he threatened to close cafes and bars which persist in breaking the ban on smoking. Moreover, he is seeking to broaden the sanction policy via criminal law. Yes, you heard that right: Allowing your customers their smokes may become a criminal offense (1). Parliaments Second Chamber approved (NL).
Horeca Nederland expressed regret as to the attitude displayed by minister Klink during their meeting today. They are now consulting their members about any next steps to be undertaken.
Looked at it superficially, it is curious to see the draconian manner with which the resistance to this hugely unpopular measure is met. But minister Klink finds himself in a bind. Even if he was inclined to do so, he can't revoke or change the smoking ban. The ban is EUnion law and minister Klink has no discretionary powers in the matter. Were he to slacken the enforcement of the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, he would be in direct defiance of the EUnion, spelling a less then sterling end to his public career.
When we were still a sovereign nation, the ban would be discussed endlessly and a compromise would have been reached, which would have alleviated much of the unwanted side-effects, like noise in the wee hours of customers having their sokes outside. But we are not a sovereign nation. We are a (minor) part of the EUnion. Our 'government' no longer serves the needs of Dutch citizens, but rather serves the needs of the EUnion.
If democracy means that the ultimate power lies with the people then the Netherlands has, much like our neighbours, stopped being a democracy in any real sense of the world. Sure, the 'democratic theater' is still in place, with us going into the voting booth every 2 to 4 years. But, as the saga around the smoking ban illustrates, it matters not a damn who we will vote for. The smoking ban is EUnion law and any political party that is not serious about getting us out of the EUnion will be bound to uphold it.
However, this particular point is never made. The first rumblings of the impending EUnion wide ban could be heard back in 2004. Yet, not in the MSM and not even on most blogs reporting on this story we hear anything about the EUnions involvement. It is a peculiar phenomenon, which EU Referendum refers to as the 'elephant in the room' (2). It is the phenomenon that whenever the effects of a particularly daft or harmful piece of EUnion legislation is discussed, any and all reference to EUnion involvement are left unspoken, unwritten and hushed over.
The reason for this is simple: The public must never find out to what extent the EUnion is governing our lives, and how utterly useless our government and our parliament really have become. Because if it does, the public will realize the Big Lie and may want to visit retribution on those that sold us the Big Lie. Not just in government, but also in the MSM and intellectual circles. There is a whole class of left inclined flower children who must be worrying in the small hours of the night, that perhaps they are not as untouchable as they think. The wide spread and popular dismissal of the smoking ban might just be the first stirrings of an angry Saxon giant waking up.
(1) Just to give you the full flavor of the absurdity in the Netherlands: Marijuana is exempt from the smoking ban, provided that no tobacco is present in your joints. I'll leave it to the reader to enumerate the vast number of contradictions and impossibillities (with regard to control and enforcements, for instance) in this brilliant piece of legislation.
(2) And there are many, many examples of this. If one follows the news across Europe a bit, one is struck with the number of like issues occupying the day. I remember sometime last year, that in one single day I saw an item on the 'Electronic Child Dossier' on the Dutch 8 o'clock news, heard a story about a similar scheme in Germany on German radio and later saw an item about the exact same thing in the UK on BBC Newsnight. Coincidence?
Road-pricing ('rekeningrijden') is another case in point. To any Dutch reader happening by here: Don't let yourself be fooled. Road-pricing will come, despite current protestations to the contrary. The EUnion needs it to justify the costs of the Galileo project and the EUnion will get it. Objections from parliament and assurances from Camile Eurlings and others are all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
[UPDATE001] Dutch Concerns: Fascism is back.
Before July 1st, a bar owner that conducted his business as he saw fit was a hard working citizen, making his living in a fully legal fashion. Now, without changing anything in the way he conducts his activities, he has become a hunted criminal.