Friday

22nd Nov 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 20 year's of archives. 30-day 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.

New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

The parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly gave the green light to France's Thierry Breton - with some MEPs critical of the candidate's links to IT firm Atos. Meanwhile, Brussels still waits for a UK commissioner.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament votes on new commission next week
  2. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  3. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  4. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  5. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  6. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  7. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  8. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP congress pledges 'moderate' climate solution
  2. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  3. New EU financial instruments needed
  4. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  5. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  6. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  7. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  8. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us