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Who is the mysterious mathematician whose studies Vlaams Belang paid for?

Who is the mysterious mathematician whose studies Vlaams Belang paid for?

Through a study conducted by Dutchman Jan van de Beek on the costs and benefits of migration, Vlaams Belang wants to give himself a scientific aura. But how scientific is the world?

“Made at the request of Tom JP Vandendriessche.” Compensation was received for making it. From the first page of his study, Dutch researcher Jan van de Beek opts for transparency. Vandendriessche is an MEP for the Vlaams Belang party – and was recently in the news because the President of the European Parliament rebuked him for using the word “depopulation”, a term from a far-right conspiracy theory. As head of his party's research department, Vandendriessche paid Van de Beek for his study of the “Financial Costs and Benefits of Emigration to Belgium”. President Tom van Greken did not want to specify the exact amount at a press conference Thursday morning in the Flemish Parliament.

But, as Van Grecken claims, “We are only the facilitator of the study, and we had no influence on the results.”

“misleading image”

However, these results fit well with the Vlaams Belang approach. In his study, van de Beek adds “add” to one Stady On the economic impact of immigration in Belgium. It was requested from the National Bank in 2018 by then Finance Minister Johan van Overtveldt (N-VA), but was only published in 2020, when N-VA no longer existed in the federal government.

This study, conducted by the National Bank, caused van de Beek to panic. Not surprisingly, the net contribution of first-generation immigrants to public finances was lower than average. But the fact that a second-generation immigrant makes on average a greater contribution to the state treasury than a native citizen, was not accepted by the Dutch – and hence Vlaams Belang. By way of clarification, the National Bank stated, among other things, that it compares taxes with interest. This second generation includes a large number of young people, and therefore receives lower pensions than the average native, because the natives are older.

Van de Beek described the National Bank's methodology as “nonsense” at the press conference. He also criticized “misleading portrayals” in the press. According to Van de Beek, the National Bank worked on a snapshot basis and did not take into account the entire life cycle of the second generation.

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The Dutchman ran the National Bank's data through his own model. This should show that the second generation also costs the Treasury money. Van de Beek and Van Grecken conclude: “Unbridled mass migration is undermining the welfare state.”

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Bar talk

Through study, Vlaams Belang wants to give himself a scientific aura. Because of his radical positions, the party was founded It has always been difficult to include academics in its discourse, but in recent years there have been cracks in this academic cordon of health.

An attempt to get political scientist Karl DeVos (UGent) to write an introduction to a book by Tom van Greken ended in failure because the party considered it too negative. In 2017, this introduction was actually given by Professor Jonathan Holslag (VUB), who later also joined as an external expert at the Defense Study Day in Vlaams Belang. In 2022, sociologist Mark Elchardus (VUB) was a guest on the YouTube Toogpraat format with Tom Van Grieken.

With Jan van de Beek, the party wants to continue this momentum. Although the Dutchman could not produce many noble letters. The guy got one Ph.D He studied the economic impacts of immigration to the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam and studied mathematics and computer science at Utrecht University, but is not officially affiliated with a university.

The so-called h-index, which is a scientific measure of the influence of scientific publications, is zero. talent Three demographers at three different Belgian research institutions asked about Van de Beek's reputation, but no one had ever heard of him.

Thierry Baudet

Van de Beek's name appears often in the Dutch media, by quote devotion In an interview Telegraph By Weird Doc. “The welfare state without borders”, a report co-authored by Van de Beek, was funded in 2021 through a vehicle of conspiracy theorist Thierry Baudet's Forum for Democracy (FvD). He was paid 30,000 euros for it. When it became clear that the University of Amsterdam logo was on the cover, the university requested it be removed.

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At the time, professor of the history of labor and migration, Leo Lucassen, described the action as “legitimizing the xenophobic views of Baudet and his followers.”

Also party JA21 Van de Beek has already been called up. This party is a breakaway from the FvD, and until recently counted Dirk Jan Ebbink among its members.

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Great minute

He also seems to realize that Van de Beek is not on trend. “There are many forces that do not want this kind of knowledge,” he said at the press conference. He also markets himself as someone who – carrying data under his arm – demolishes sacred buildings. “You will only discover taboos when you break them.”

In his study he described the argument that his work would fall into the hands of the far right as “complete nonsense”: “Those in power who implement this ban suspect that the cost-benefit analysis will lead to a significant minus.” In other words, it indicates a conscious “unwillingness to know.”

It is not unusual for parties to attract experts to confirm their positions. In 2019, the N-VA invited American Michael Shellenberger to a conference, where he made an impassioned plea for nuclear power. In June, Gruen brought Dane Paul Holmbeck home for a day of study on organic food production.

Van Grecken was visibly pleased and said he had “never received so many questions at a press conference as today.” Whether Van de Beek's research will stand up to critical questions is a topic on which experts are unwilling to comment today.