January 23rd, 2013 • Prime Minister Mark Rutte should take a leaf out of the book of his British counterpart David Cameron and organise a referendum on the future of the European Union. In doing so he would be joining Cameron in expressing the desire to retrieve powers and strengthen the position of national parliaments. So says SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel in response to today’s speech from the British Tory leader. 'It would be stupid to view dissatisfaction as an exclusively British phenomenon. In the whole of Europe people are fed up with a Brussels bureaucracy which is destroying prosperity at breakneck speed. The present course is not inevitable and the government should offer the Netherlands a choice when it comes to our future in the EU. Not over membership per se but rather over the steps being taken in the direction of a federal Europe.’
Van Bommel during the campaign against the European Constitution of 2005.
In his speech Cameron cited various policy areas in which he would like to see powers returned from the European Union, such as labour law, the environment and the fight against criminality. These are not areas in which the SP wishes to see reduced cooperation at European level, but that in itself does not remove the possibility for the Netherlands to work with Cameron, Van Bommel insists. ‘The Dutch government has also agreed to put forward proposals to withdraw powers from Brussels, and they should clarify these immediately now that Cameron has opened the discussion. The development of an ever-increasing Brussels bureaucracy must be stopped.’
Cameron’s observation that the national parliaments are the most legitimate bodies to speak on behalf of the peoples of the different European countries can also reckon on the SP’s support. ‘An SP resolution to strengthen the position of national parliaments within the European Union was adopted with support across the board,’ says Van Bommel. ‘The enlargement of the European Parliament’s powers at the expense of national parliaments must be stopped. Cameron is also in this respect an important ally in achieving this.’