European elections – this time it’s different

16 February 2014

European elections – this time it’s different

The countdown has begun: fewer than a hundred days to the European elections on 22nd May, and less than a week before the SP national congress, where the election manifesto and list of candidates will be voted on by the party’s supreme decision-making organ. The European Parliament has adopted a motto for the elections: This time it’s different. In itself an empty slogan, but the SP can certainly agree with what it does say: these elections concern nothing more nor less than the preservation of our national democracy. Will the Netherlands become a province of Europe or will we remain at the controls? In the past we thought that it would never come to this, but this time is indeed different: it’s make or break!

Dennis de JongThe established parties want the electorate to believe that the European elections centre on two things: you can opt for a federal Europe, as the centrist D66 and centre-left Green Left would wish; or for a little less federal Europe, as favoured by the Labour Party and the two major parties of the centre-right, the CDA and the VVD; and via your choice of a particular party you will also now for the first time be deciding who will become president of the European Commission. Both positions represent a cheating of the voters.

First of all the choice between a federal Europe and a Europe that proceeds rather more calmly. Between the federalists and the so-called centrist parties there’s a great deal less space than you would think from their presentations. All of these parties voted in favour of the national budget being determined far more by the European Commission than by our own parliament in The Hague. Not one of them wants to see, as the SP does, the end of the European Commission as the initiator of an endless series of European legislative proposals and not one of them wants to see, as does the SP, a greater say for the Netherlands through the reintroduction of the right of veto in sensitive areas such as the criminal law or public services. They also differ from the SP in opposing an opt-out rule for the Netherlands, which would enable us to decide what we are unwilling to go along with, if we are steadfastly opposed. No, between an ounce less and an ounce more there is no significant difference: all of the established parties are steering a course towards a federal Europe.

The notion that on this occasion you will indirectly elect the president of the Commission is also a myth. It will continue to be the heads of member state governments who do this. They must indeed take into account the result of the elections, but it isn’t the case that, if for example the social democrats come out on top in the elections, their candidate, the current, authoritarian president of the EP Martin Schulz will automatically move to the Commission in the same capacity. Merkel has already made it clear that she will not feel bound by the candidacies of the various European political parties. In short, you’re not electing anything at all, aside from the politicians who will sit in the EP from the Netherlands.

We in the SP are quite clear about this: we want to see cooperation with other countries, but not a superstate. We have not affiliated to a European political party, because we saw no point in this. We are not going to play the game of ‘choose the Commission president’. On the contrary, as far as we’re concerned the entire Commission in its present form should be abolished. We want to cooperate with other countries, but in such a way that our national parliament regains the power which the Constitution of the Netherlands grants to it. This time it’s different: will we choose national democracy or a federal Europe? It’s make or break.

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