‘National debates needed over future of EU’

24 June 2005

‘National debates needed over future of EU’

The current political crisis in Europe must be seized as an opportunity to set in motion a political debate in every member state over the direction of the Union. In the Netherlands this has already, following an initiative from the SP, been decided. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer used yeterday's plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Brussels to issue a call to this effect to government leaders, urging them to follow his country's example.

Erik MeijerErik Meijer: ‘Following the Dutch and French No votes against the Constitution, most governments have decided to pause for breath. But if it's only a pause for breath for the leaders, who would in reality like to plough on with the Constitution regardless, then they haven't understood what the voters have told them, that a better Europe is possible. The break should be seen as offering space and time for a broad public discussion, involving social organisations and citizens in general, over the future of Europe.'

Mr Meijer argues that it would be a mistake to plump too hastily for haphazard spending cuts or the exclusion of new applicant states: It should now be a matter of what we want the EU to do, and certainly also what we don't want it to do. A discussion of this sort could reveal that people really do want large-scale and trans-frontier problems tackled, that they see the need for protection of people and the environment, but no need for Brussels to interfere with national, regional and local democracy.”

Today SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel will be in Paris for a joint meeting of the organisations which played the most important roles in the French and Dutch 'No” campaigns and will stress the importance of national debates over the future of the European Union. Given that, at the recent EU Summit, no agreement was reached over a financial framework for the coming period, there is clearly room to allow time for a pause for thought over the question of where Europe is going, over what should and should not be the EU's responsibilities and what this should cost.

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