Netherlands Wants Smaller European Commission
THE HAGUE, 16/11/13 - Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wants the European Commission to be smaller. The Netherlands is also starting an offensive for a charter on 'subsidiarity'.
Each of the 28 EU countries currently has its own Commissioner, but only a few have an important portfolio. Timmermans points out that according to the European Treaty, the European Commission is already not required to have a commissioner for each country. In practice, however, this is not adhered to.
According to Timmermans, “the logic of the Treaty” must be followed in the future. Among other things, the Netherlands proposes making the Commission smaller by only giving a limited number of vice-presidents the right to make legislative proposals. Whether this means that the Dutch Commissioner would lose these powers is unclear.
Timmermans is calling on the EU countries to back a charter that should lead to less regulation from Brussels. At the beginning of January, he plans to bring representative of the EU countries to The Hague for a seminar on subsidiarity.
"The charter should establish what Europe must concentrate on and also what it must leave to the member states. This means more Europe in some areas and less in others,” Timmermans wrote Friday in an article in the Financial Times.
Subsidiarity is the principle that the EU must not undertake anything that can better be done at the level of member states. This is already in the EU treaty, but the government has already been complaining for some time that it is not being put into effect.
Timmermans wants national parliaments to be able to call European Commissioners to account in their capitals. The European Commission should also have to withdraw a proposal if one-third of the national parliaments are against it. This would mean that the existing ‘yellow card’ would automatically become a red card. According to Timmermans, no Treaty change is necessary for his proposals.
Earlier this year, the Netherlands sent a memorandum to Brussels with 54 ‘action points’. These are questions that according to the taste of the government can better be arranged at national level. There are also measures there to which the Netherlands is simply opposed, such as a levy on financial transactions.
In the article, Timmermans criticises politicians who play on national pride and identity. “People run after rat-catchers who hold up a glorious national past, which never existed, as a model for a future which will never appear.”