Opposition Disappointed with Cabinet's Autonomy Document
THE HAGUE, 25/06/13 - Opposition parties are disappointed with the views of the cabinet on the degree of autonomy that the member states should have within the EU.
The cabinet drew up a document on Friday which indicates in which areas the member states should form their own policy and where uniform EU policy is preferable. The list was announced earlier as one that would claw back powers from the EU, but there is no mention of this.
“The cabinet’s operation to bring back powers from Europe has gone out like a light,” says centre-left D66 leader Alexander Pechtold. "If you say you want to bring back powers, you do actually have to do it, or else do not get too big for your boots. In this way, people’s confidence in Europe will just be further undermined.”
Small Christian party ChristenUnie is also disappointed. The list with points that the Netherlands wants to recapture is primarily aimed at regulations that are already under negotiation or are expected, said MP Gert-Jan Segers. "Existing regulations are almost not mentioned, even though the cabinet had in fact promised this. This does not remotely appear to be a reallocation of tasks and powers at the European and national level.”
According to the cabinet, "the Netherlands aims to initiate a process in the EU, based on the principle: ‘European where necessary, national where possible’. In a letter to parliament, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans added on Friday that the Netherlands "is convinced that the time of an ‘ever closer union’ in every possible policy area is behind us."
Issues that the Netherlands believes "could be left more or less entirely" to member states include "halting the further harmonisation of social security systems" and working conditions, which should only be regulated in broad outline. Also the cabinet does not advocate EU regulation of media pluralism and flood risk management should only be harmonised at European level for truly transboundary water courses. The EU programmes for school milk and school fruit should be phased out.
"There will continue to be a strong need for European cooperation in many areas," according to the government. "These include the financial and economic crisis, energy, climate change, asylum and migration, the completion of the internal market, tackling tax fraud and evasion and cooperation in the field of defence."
The list was compiled with input from all government ministries and from stakeholder organisations. First, the list will be discussed with parliament. Then the government will try to gain support for its initiative from the European Commission, European Parliament and other member states. The government emphasises that it is not aiming at a treaty change.