The Netherlands isn’t a province of Europe, Neelie!
The Netherlands isn’t a province of Europe, Neelie!
Even if the silly season is upon us, or at least if the time is ripe for it, all of a sudden yet another fundamental discussion appears to have broken out regarding the Netherlands and the European Union – or ‘Brussels’ for short. On 9th July Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes gave an interview to national daily De Telegraaf, in which she hauled her party colleague, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, over the coals for his ‘Euro-pragmatism’, arguing that he should explain once more to the people of the Netherlands that their country has gained a great deal from Brussels and stop moaning about the +/- 5% increase in the EU budget. It’s always nice to see the right falling out with each other, but of course there was nothing new in Kroes’s remarks.
Much more interesting was an article by Russia specialist and political commentator Marcel van Hamersveld which appeared in another national newspaper, De Volkskrant, the day before, in which he argued for the preservation of the nation states and an end to the transfer of ever more powers to Brussels. The European Commission is, he says, a ‘politbureau’ which, far from serving the interests of the public, forces its own agenda on to all of us, whether we like it or not.
Kroes’s attitude directly confirms Van Hamersveld’s comparison. She does not listen to what members of the public say, but simply wants to impose her will, even if most Dutch people don’t agree with her. The SP recently released a cartoon history of Europe and the EU which ends with the question of whether we should proceed towards a Superstate Europe or direct our energies instead towards a form of cooperation in which the citizen takes centre stage and has a real say in things. Kroes prefers the former, the SP stands for the latter.
Apart from the lust for power, there are other things going on amongst the European Commissioners of Brussels. In her interview Kroes said that the most important advantage of the EU was that we have an internal market in Europe and that this brings in €2,000 per person per year for every Dutch citizen. I don’t know if you’ve seen anything of this two grand, but unless you own a big firm, I doubt it. This internal market benefits first and foremost major corporations, which can more easily distribute and sell their products throughout the whole of Europe. At the same time poverty in Europe has only grown and public services have been stripped to the bare bones. These social costs are not considered by Kroes, who, in common with most of her colleagues, has always been, and remains, a true neoliberal.
The internal market was the start of it. Later there followed the abolition of border controls, and now we have European economic governance, by means of which Brussels is seeking to get a grip on virtually the whole of the social and economic policy of the member states. The Commission is systematically removing power from national governments and giving it to Brussels Eurocrats, while corporate executives and speculators lurk in the background, people who have never been as well-served as they are in Brussels.
The results of all of these developments are never properly explained to the public: that by abolishing border controls you are handing over immigration policy and even the criminal law to Europe. Such things are known only to insiders, and the public are told only that you can now travel freely through Europe. Or that the introduction of the Euro means in reality that social and economic policy also is being transferred to Brussels. Only the SP said this, but government ministers were well aware of it: when a journalist from business daily the Financieel Dagblad asked then finance minister Gerrit Zalm - off the record - whether the Euro could indeed be introduced without a centrally-directed economic policy his reply was ‘Oh well, that will indeed come of its own volition, first a little here, then a little there.’ But he didn’t say this in public, instead laughingly telling us about how nice it was that you no longer had to change your money when you went travelling inside the Eurozone.
You hardly ever hear the whole story.
Recently French Commissioner Michel Barnier was indeed honest, saying that he felt the time had come for a federal Europe, the United States of Europe. Member states would become provinces, or at best something like the German ‘Länder’. Even that is, by the way, not wholly true, as the ‘Länder’ – the regional states which make up the Federal Republic of Germany – are in no way obliged to present their budgets to Berlin for approval, whereas the Eurozone member states will have to do just that in Brussels. The federal states that form the USA don’t have to present their budgets to Washington, DC, either. Yet this is just what is actually being agreed by the European heads of government. You have to wonder whether these Europhiles will soon set the bar even higher and if they wouldn’t perhaps rather have a unified state, or a sort of Soviet Union.
Kroes and her colleagues are out for unlimited power. Even a financial-economic crisis caused by casino capitalism is for them something they can attempt to use to take more power to themselves and their market ideology. ‘Never waste a good crisis’ is Brussels’ favourite saying.
In 2011, people are no longer prepared to put up with this. Of course, many are anxious, first about the banking crisis and now the debt crisis which over the last few weeks has concentrated mainly on Greece. But these same people do not see Brussels as the solution. If the European Commission would really listen to the people for once, they would hear that they simply want to regulate close to home what can indeed be regulated close to home and are absolutely sick of all of the untruths and all of the market ideology of the Europhiles. They want, and are sometimes even eager, to cooperate in tackling major, cross-border problems. But the Netherlands a province of Europe? Never! The SP has told them this repeatedly. Now we have only to ensure that people are sent to Brussels who can indeed listen to what the public has to say, instead of dancing to the tune of the ideologists of power and of the market.