Roemer: 'More Brussels is not the way out of the crisis in Europe'

27 June 2012

Roemer: 'More Brussels is not the way out of the crisis in Europe'

‘Europe has brought us a great deal, but at the moment is threatened by politicians who in rapid tempo want to force through a European government, a European president and a European superstate.’ So said SP leader Emile Roemer today in the parliamentary debate on the eurocrisis. ‘Anyone who values European cooperation is not to be led along by the financial markets, which is making any form of democracy impossible,’ he added.

Read the full text of Roemer’s contribution to the debate below:

Emile RoemerEurope has brought us many benefits. We have now known sixty years of peace, something which without the European Union might well not have been successfully achieved. We conduct a great deal of trade with our neighbours and can look each other up free of barriers and without a passport. Environmental pollution, trade in human beings and terrorism we combat together. Differences amongst us of language and culture are not barriers, but enrichment.

But that Europe is threatened: by politicians who in rapid tempo want to force through a European government, a European president and a European superstate.

A national newspaper this morning carried the headline ‘about us, without us’. Doubly true, this headline. First of all, because at any important discussions the Netherlands is not present. But in addition because the people are not involved in European politics and because of this, support for European cooperation is disappearing like snow in the sun. The truly anti-European parties are those who with a Big Bang want to force on us a United States of Europe.

That Europe appears to be at hand, at least if we can believe all of the ideas that will be discussed tomorrow and the day after. The eurozone countries are threatened by losing all powers over their budgets to the European Central Bank. There should be a European Finance Ministry which must take decisions about our budget. And so-called ‘eurobonds’, as a result of which we will have to pay for the problems created by other countries, also lie in wait. This is the new Europe of EU president Herman van Rompuy.

More Brussels is not the way out of the crisis in Europe. The Prime Minister ‘appears’ to realise this as well. Ever since the presentation of the government agreement he has been swearing that under his leadership no powers will go to Brussels. But now we know better. The European Commission can, partly thanks to this Prime Minister, now interfere in our entire economic policy, including the pensionable age and the housing market, and in some cases even impose billions in fines.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister has also signed a treaty on the European Stability Mechanism in which we give away our control over 40 billion euros. In addition, he has signed a budgetary pact that forces us to make still more spending cuts. Does the Prime Minister acknowledge that under his leadership, a great deal of control has already gone to Brussels?

EU president Van Rompuy talks about building bricks, but doesn’t tell us just what is being built with them: a banking union, a budgetary union, and far-reaching centralisation of economic policy. Yesterday it became clear just how serious and how far-reaching this plan is.

President Van Rompuy writes in his plan that work needs to be done on public support for further integration of Europe. But this stands at complete odds to the proposals that he puts forward. Public support for undemocratic measures? People aren’t crazy. Does the Prime Minister really think that the public will accept this?
For the SP it is absolutely obvious that the present crisis is being misused to roll the Netherlands into a political union. How does the Prime minister see that?

People are fed up with having repeatedly to save banks. These banks are now ‘too big to fail’. Has that been addressed? No! We must in the entire eurozone become responsible for each other’s banks and their possible losses, while supervision is removed and put into the hands of technocrats outside any control.

The SP is also not expecting anything from a European deposit guarantee system. Will the Prime Minister indeed vote for this tomorrow?

Who knows what the banking sector in the different member states still has up its sleeve? Better supervision is a great idea, of course, but you first have to reduce the risks.

By, for example, the separation of utility banks from business banks; by strengthened capitalisation; and by introducing a transaction tax. That’s why the Netherlands must immediately become a member of the lead group proposed by France and Germany.

That’s cooperation in Europe. A reaction from the Prime Minister, please. Will he be demanding this on Thursday?

The economic policy that the EU wants to prescribe for us is completely a-social. Van Rompuy suggested this week that we should even operate the same pension age everywhere. Things can’t get much loopier. Cooperation is excellent. And much needed. In order to prevent countries from competing on wages, and on tax levels. But soon Brussels will be determining how much debt you can have as a country, how big a deficit you may have. Then Brussels will be able to force us to amend our budget.

In the SP’s view the Prime Minister should be arguing over the coming days for the introduction of a social agenda in Europe.

Agreements over a European social minimum.

Agreements on a common approach to poverty and to combatting exploitation.

Does the Prime Minister share our view that the recommendations from Brussels go much too far. And is he prepared to let this be known on Thursday and to argue for a social agenda?

What then, indeed?

There remains a growth package on the agenda. 130 billion, which by the way has already been presented several times as something new. We support the mobilisation of existing European resources more effectively, and so not via the European Investment Bank (EIB).

But that won’t be effective if we fail at the same time to make more realistic agreements over the mania for austerity in Europe which is everywhere putting economic growth under pressure.

As has already been said, in the short term we will have to tackle the financial markets, we must regulate to prevent a situation arising in which countries are speculated to death. The emergency fund does not appear to have that effect, or scarcely. The European Central Bank (ECB) can buy state bonds, which could indeed be relied on to have that effect. The Bank has already done this in the past.

We must regulate the financial sector:
By banning bonuses in the financial sector.
By separating utility banks from business banks, or normal activities from investment activities within banks.
Through an effective test for new financial products.
Through independent and non-commercial credit rating agencies.
By introducing more rigorous demands on capitalisation, and a tax on transactions, a ‘Tobin Tax’.
Through more openness about the financial markets and the possibility in extreme circumstances of suspending trade in state debts.

And of course countries which have made a mess of things must put them to rights. And of course more balance must be created between the various economies within the eurozone. And of course we in the northern countries must stimulate our economies. That’s what the Prime Minister should be talking about with the other European leaders tomorrow. Not about the Utopian visions of European officials, but about concrete solutions to acute problems.

Europa was once meant to give free people a free choice. And it’s precisely that which is continually thwarted, sometimes even blocked, by politicians who believed that the people weren’t up to making such a choice. And so we had no referendum over the de euro, no referendums on European treaties. And so the result of the only referendum that we did have was binned.

And were the people wrong? Were the people too stupid to be allowed to decide their own future? No. If decision-makers had listened more closely to the public then the problems would never have grown so big. We would not then have sunk so deep in crisis. I am already rejoicing for the time when we will have a government that will go to Brussels and dare to say ‘cooperation, yes; prescribing our laws for us, no!’ And I want to ask this Prime Minister: is he prepared to give the public a voice? Is he prepared to put to the people European laws which meddle deeply into our lives? Can he promise here and now that no powers will be given away without the people first being asked?

Whoever values European cooperation should proceed with caution. And not roar about like a bull in a china shop. Whoever values European cooperation should not give away our sovereignty willy-nilly. Whoever values European cooperation should no longer be led along by the financial markets, which is making any form of democracy impossible..

The role of the Prime minister is, to put it mildly, dubious. Not only have we no idea what he actually stands for here, but also in Brussels. This Prime Minister is holding fire on reactions as to its contents until Van Rompuy is ready with his building bricks. Madame Chairwoman, you cannot contribute to a building AFTER it’s completed. Never mind that you might want to alter the construction or even halt parts of it. In this crucial time the Netherlands is hardly taking any initiative. We merely lurch along, going along with keeping the money flowing.

We must restore our leadership over Europe, repair democracy, opt for the state of law above the financial jungle. And I’m convinced that we will find ever more people standing alongside us in this, in the Netherlands, but also in Europe. Look around, in France and Germany, in Greece and Spain.

It’s time that we made our voices heard once again in Brussels. It’s time therefore that we sent a watchdog there.

Madame Chairwoman, I can’t wait for the 12th of September.

You are here