European Parliament avoids public debate on EU Economic Governance

11 May 2011

European Parliament avoids public debate on EU Economic Governance

Today saw a debate in the European Parliament on the package of crisis measures designed to save the euro, with the European Commission and the Council of Ministers (which directly represents the member states) participating. Nothing was said, however, about the negotiations which have already opened, in secret, on the formation of a European Economic Government. 'It’s usual before negotiations open to first offer the chance to debate the parliament’s starting position and vote on it during the plenary meeting in Strasbourg,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘This new, extremely radical step towards giving Brussels more powers over the economy should not be taken without a public debate after which all MEPs should have the chance to vote.’

Dennis de JongIn the European Parliament Committee on Economic Governance, huge differences of opinion emerged. Yet normally, only in the face of a very high degree of consensus, does the Parliament proceed to negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the Commission without first debating and voting on the issue in question. This time a narrow right-wing majority pushed their views through, with the result that the Parliament will soon be confronted by a ‘take it or leave it´ situation. De Jong notes that it isn’t only in the EP, moreover, that the voice of the people and their views on economic governance are not being heeded. “In the Netherlands Prime Minister Rutte is also anxious to let sleeping dogs lie,” he says, “so he tells the Dutch people that this package doesn’t give Brussels more powers.”

Recently the national trade union federation the FNV, in an urgent letter to Parliament, said that Brussels’ interference with the Netherlands’ established system of national labour agreements, known as CAOs, as well as any meddling with the Dutch people’s pensions, must be prevented. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), has also called for no acceptance of any interference in unions’ rights to free collective bargaining. “The European Parliament has, by opting for secret negotiations instead of public debate, thrown away a powerful instrument for informing and mobilising the people,” says De Jong. The SP Euro-MP says that he won’t be sitting idly by while this is done, but will organise, together with Dutch trade unions and other progressive political parties, resistance to the plans.

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