Derk Jan Eppink (born November 7 1958) is Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) parliamentary group. He started his career as a journalist, first in Holland then in Belgium. He was Member of Cabinet for European Commissioners Bolkestein (1999–2004) and Kallas (2004–2007). In 2009, he was elected to the European Parliament as a Dutchman running for a party in Belgium.
Eppink was born in Steenderen, close to Arnhem, Gelderland.
He studied Dutch law at the VU University in Amsterdam (1977–1981) and, thereafter, European law and International Politics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1984 he moved to Brussels to become trainee at the European Commission. Thereafter he worked for 3 years as assistant to Members of the European Parliament.
In 1987, Derk Jan Eppink joined the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad where he was assigned to the foreign desk. He covered South Africa, and the release of Nelson Mandela, worked as correspondent in Poland after the fall of the Berlin Wall and became political editor reporting on Dutch politics in The Hague. In 1995, he moved to the Flemish newspaper De Standaard where he reported on Belgian politics. He wrote two books on his experiences in Belgian politics: Vreemde Buren (Odd neighbors), Avonturen van een Nederbelg (Adventures of a Nederbelg).
In October 1999, he started working as member of cabinet of Dutch European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. He was Bolkestein’s liaison with the European Parliament, speechwriter and also assigned to liberalization of postal markets. In 2004, in co-operation with Bolkestein, he published the book The Limits of Europe. In October 2004 Eppink joined the cabinet of Siim Kallas from Estonia, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for administration, audit and anti-fraud. In March 2007 Eppink published his book ‘Life of a European Mandarin’ describing his experiences in the European Commission. The book has been published in Dutch, English, Estonian, Czech and French. It has been reviewed in the Financial Times and Foreign Affairs.
In 2007, Eppink moved to New York City as his wife worked for the United Nations. He reported on the 2008 American presidential election for Flemish and Dutch magazines plus radio and television outlets.
In 2009, Eppink returned to Belgium to run for the European Parliament and got elected. He is member of the Economic and Monetary Committee, the Budget Committee and the Budget Control Committee. He is also member of the US and China delegation. Eppink was Vice-President and Treasurer of the think tank ‘New Direction’ which presses for reform in Europe. Its patron is the late Lady Thatcher who attended the launch of New Direction in October 2010 in London.
As an author Eppink still writes contributions, columns and opinion articles, for various newspapers in different countries on European and international affairs. He is also a regular commentator on television stations throughout Europe as he speaks Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish and Russian. In 2010 he published the book: ‘The Tower of Babel is in Brussels’ pointing at dark clouds at the European horizon. However, ruling circles of Brussels depicted him as ‘unbeliever and pessimist’. Then the Greek crisis emerged and the EU started sliding into its deepest crisis yet.
Mid 2014, at the end of his term, Eppink moved to New York to join the London Policy Center; an American think tank on foreign policy and defense. He became senior fellow Europe. In the framework of his think tank, Eppink provides briefings to members of the US Congress and their staff.
In March 2015 he published he published his book ‘Empire of little kings’ on the European elites in general and the European Parliament in particular.