• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Dutch EU reform agenda - a primer

In previous we've described the Dutch as 'thought leaders' on EU reform. The Dutch Government's 'subsidiarity review' and the Tweede Kamer's report on the role of national parliaments, with its proposals for 'red', 'green' and 'late' cards, all spring to mind.

Many of these ideas were discussed at a seminar in The Hague in January, organised by the Dutch Cingendael and Brussels CEPS think tanks. A short report on the outcome of the meeting is available online and lists over 30 potential reforms to improve democratic legitimacy and accountability. Some are more concrete than others but here are a few of them:
  • Give one of the European Commissioners a subsidiarity portfolio.
  • Negotiate a political agreement between the Council and the Commission (possibly involving the European Parliament as well), determining certain domains or certain issues where the European institutions will refrain from further initiatives. A closely related alternative is the idea of a moratorium, agreeing not to present new proposals in a specific area for a certain period.
  • Establish a separate subsidiarity court to monitor EU legislation.
  • Encourage a proactive approach by EU and national legislators to prevent unintended interpretation by the European Court of Justice.
  • Ensure that the European Parliament, taking advantage of its role in selecting the next Commission President, does not dictate the agenda to the Commission.
  • Introduce ex post subsidiarity control on existing EU legislation to demonstrate whether subsidiarity was respected and to justify the necessity of EU legislative acts on a case-by-case basis. Both member states and the EU institutions should be involved.
  • Introduce an informal ‘red card’ for national parliaments, by proposing the political agreement that the Commission will use its discretion to withdraw legislation if one-third of national parliaments raise subsidiarity objections.
  • Introduce a ‘late card’, giving national parliaments the opportunity to voice their concerns at a later stage of the ordinary legislative procedure.
  • Introduce a ‘green card’ for national parliaments, which would give them the option to table a joint legislative proposal if a substantial number of member states’ parliaments support it.
There are plenty of good ideas here that the Dutch government in particular has been increasingly vocal in supporting. There are many other proposals that we would throw into the mix, from reforming the EU budget by repatriating regional spending to the wealthiest member states to introducing greater legal safeguards for non-eurozone countries.

As our pan-European reform conference showed, there is growing momentum for change in the EU that extends beyond the UK.


Denis Cooper said...

Here is my alternative agenda for reforming the EU.

1. Remove the treaty commitment to a process of "ever closer union" which was largely concealed from the British people at the time of the 1975 referendum.

2. Remove all those countries which were not members of the EEC at the time of the 1975 referendum, except for those whose continuing membership is approved by the British people in nineteen separate referendums.

3. Restore the British national veto over all EU proposals that was promised at the time of the 1975 referendum.

4. Reduce the competences of the EU to those which had been conferred at the time of the 1975 referendum.

5. Scrap the single currency that the government promised would not happen at the time of the 1975 referendum.

Failing which, the UK should put in its notice of withdrawal.

Peter van Leeuwen said...

Cooperating national parliaments should show a bit more activism. COSAC could carve out a larger role for itself.

Rik said...

Little attention for Red Tape.

Would have been better to include Service directive (and freetrade agreements). So the burocrats keep having something to do.
Systems if not having changed its culture always tend to move to the normal (well what they see as the normal).

Problem with this remains that the system remains rigid. No room for flexibility effectively (unless all agree). Countries cannot leave the EZ for instance. Other views on immigration will take a decade or more to get into EU legislation if at all. While these could put at national level the thing under heavy pressure (what we see now). And who knows what the future might bring.
In other words you should work more towards a basis to which everybody has to sign on. And modules to be added to it. So one one hand countries can move forward in a smaller group, but on the other hand when things get unbearable at national level there is an opt out (should of course not be a flipflop/Mr Ed thingy).
This starts now to block necessary measures on one hand and generates a lot of pressure in several countries at the other. Lousy combination.
When you get close to people's life it will more and more become necessary that swift political action can be taken at both European and national level. Unflexible things break sometime.

Idris Francis said...

Too busy to comment, have to put out the pig-swill, at 10,000 feet

Anonymous said...

The problem is that none of the "competencies" that have been usurped by the unelected commission will ever have a chance of being returned to the nations, no reform will take place just more and more power grabs.

christina speight said...

Denis Cooper is the only one that grasps what is needed . But although that's needed it won't happen so our "notice of withdrawal is inevitable. Open Europe's vague optimism is depressingly obscuring the true facts and the Dutch for - for all their ingenuity - haven't grasped the hard truth. No tinkering is possible AT ALL.

Do let's stop talking about "Reform" - not remotely possible. , All this hot air belongs with Idris's pig swill at 10,000 feet !

Jesper said...

Is Barroso also asking for reform:

"Because the European Union is not perfect. There are things that we can - and are - changing for the better. There are some things we should do more of, and other things in which Europe does not need to meddle."

I can't help but wonder: Which things he thinks EU (which institutions?) should not meddle in? Has there been inappropriate meddling?