Tuesday

13th Apr 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. Putin refuses to talk about military build-up, Ukraine says
  2. EU bank to help Greece manage corona-recovery funds
  3. Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries to EU begin
  4. EU sanctions commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard
  5. UK opens investigation into ex-PM Cameron lobbying
  6. 'Significant differences' in EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland
  7. Bulgarian PM reveals price rise in new EU-BioNTech deal
  8. Biden sending envoy to Brussels

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime
  2. China responds to 'low-efficacy' vaccine fears
  3. Merkel party chiefs support Laschet's chancellor bid
  4. EU refuses to bail out Montenegro's China loan
  5. Industry lobby to 'co-decide' on nearly €10bn EU public money
  6. Why Ursula von der Leyen won't go
  7. Incorporating gender in trade policy to benefit all
  8. Does Italian regionalism actually work?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us