IV. The Netherlands and the European Union
The EU is crucial for peace, security and prosperity in the Netherlands. Much of our income is earned in Europe; many of our jobs depend on it. The internal market is at the heart of European cooperation. European cooperation also strengthens our geopolitical position relative to emerging and established powers in other parts of the world. Furthermore, many Europeans feel bound together by the ideals of democracy, the rule of law and equal treatment. It is along these lines that the Netherlands interprets its role in Europe.
Good times for Europe mean good times for the Netherlands. Conversely, the Netherlands feels a European crisis more acutely than many other countries do. A strong Europe that will overcome the crisis as quickly as possible is therefore in our interests.
• While countries determine their own policies, it is vital for the euro’s survival that all countries become stronger financially and economically and converge towards one another. To prevent economic imbalances, countries must hold each other to their agreements and control mechanisms should be strengthened as necessary.
• Countries are responsible for putting their own budgets in order and strengthening their economies. Any support that countries receive must go hand in hand with efforts on their part to ensure a steady recovery. There can be no question of countries that act responsibly providing systematic support to countries that do not act responsibly.
• The internal market must be strengthened further. Effective measures to boost the growth that Europe needs should be promoted and supported. Protectionism is contrary to the European idea. Member states have primary responsibility for the organisation of social security and of their public and semi-public sectors.
• The Netherlands supports the step-by-step creation of a European banking union. Effective European bank supervision should be established and balance sheets cleaned up as quickly as possible. In addition, under strict conditions, direct support to banks by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) may be in order. As the final steps a single banking resolution mechanism and a European deposit guarantee scheme should be established.
• The Netherlands will ask the European Commission to list the policy areas that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, could be transferred to national governments. We will also make proposals ourselves.
• The accession of new member states should be assessed on the basis of the Copenhagen criteria.
• The position of the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs should be further strengthened.
• It should be made possible to withdraw after consultations with other member states from such collective bodies as Schengen, the eurozone and the European Union.
• The EU budget should develop in line with national budgets. The Netherlands will not support any proposal for a substantial increase while the member states are making cuts.
• By cutting the agricultural and cohesion budgets, the EU budget should be modernised in the interests of investment in innovation and sustainability.
• There should be a fair system of burden-sharing among the EU member states. For the Netherlands this means at a minimum extending the previously agreed correction of €1 billion.
• Better accountability for the expenditure of European funds remains a Dutch priority.