Monday

21st Jan 2019

Netherlands attacks 'creeping' EU powers

The Netherlands, one of the Union's six founding countries, has attacked "creeping" EU interference in people's day-to-day lives.

Its coalition government said in a memo published on Friday (21 June): "The Netherlands is convinced that the time of an 'ever closer union' in every possible policy area is behind us."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It said the Union's slogan should be: "European where necessary, national where possible."

It underlined that it does not want to change EU treaties.

It also said there is a "strong need" for joint EU action on big-ticket items, such as economic governance, migration and defence.

But it noted that a review of EU powers by its foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, shows an equal need for "creating a European Union that is more modest, more sober."

The review - a 22-page document sent to Dutch MPs - was leaked, also on Friday, by the London-based think tank, Open Europe.

In what it dubs "creeping competences," Timmermans' paper says the European Commission should stop publishing non-binding "communications or recommendations" in areas where it has no mandate.

It says EU countries should have more control of "implementing acts" - EU officials' tweaks to existing law, known as "comitology" in EU jargon.

It also says that if a verdict by the EU court in Luxembourg "interprets EU legislation in a way that EU legislators did not foresee" then the original law should be changed.

The review - drafted after talks with dozens of Dutch firms and trade unions - contains 54 "points of action" on EU policies, ranging from tax to olive oil.

It says the new Financial Transactions Tax (FTT), to be put in place by 11 EU states, should not cover Dutch funds which trade in FTT jurisdictions.

It says Brussels should bin its proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base - a law designed to stop tax avoidance by firms such as Google or Starbucks - because corporate tax is "a national prerogative."

It notes that member states should be able to cut EU officials' salaries more easily.

It rejects the idea of a new EU budget line for economic aid to eurozone countries.

It says there is "no reason for EU-level legislation" on quotas for women on corporate boards.

And it aims to roll back a wide range of EU initiatives, from construction material norms, to forestry management or milk and fruit programmes for schoolchildren.

It highlights a recent fiasco on olive oil as "a good example" of how EU law creates silly "administrative burdens."

Brussels in May retracted a ban, on hygiene grounds, on refillable olive oil jugs in restaurants after a wave of ridicule in European media.

Timmermans said the 2014 EU elections and the 2016 Dutch EU presidency are an "opportunity" to promote his agenda.

The Dutch ideas come after British leader David Cameron in a speech in January also criticised the notion of "ever closer union."

British foreign minister William Hague in July promised to do a Timmermans-type review of "meddlesome" EU activity.

He said his paper will be ready in 2014.

The British study is expected to go further than the Dutch one, with a focus on EU criminal legislation and social policies.

It will underpin the UK's plan to negotiate new opt-outs from EU law and to hold a referendum, by 2017, on whether to stay in the Union.

UK promises thorough analysis of EU by 2014

The UK government has announced it will undertake a wide-ranging study of the EU so that any statements it makes about 'meddlesome' Brussels may be in future be backed up by hard evidence.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

News in Brief

  1. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  2. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  3. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report
  4. Vestager under pressure to allow Siemens-Alstom deal
  5. Teargas and clashes in Athens over Macedonia name change
  6. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  7. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  8. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us