Bolkestein to retain EC post
13 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Coalition parties, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66, have reportedly agreed that present Internal Markets Commissioner of the European Commission (EC), Frits Bolkestein, can retain his post when the new commission is appointed next year.
13 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Coalition parties, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66, have reportedly agreed that present Internal Markets Commissioner of the European Commission (EC), Frits Bolkestein, can retain his post when the new commission is appointed next year.
VVD parliamentary leader Jozias van Aartsen said the verbal agreement was reached during coalition formation talks earlier this year and the CDA and D66 could not back out now, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Thursday.
Bolkestein is a former leader of the VVD and since his appointment to the EC in the 1990s has continually voiced opinions about current events in the Netherlands.
But during a parliamentary debate in May, Zalm denied that an agreement had been made about Bolkestein's successor. In response to Van Aartsen's remarks, and D66 leader Boris Dittrich claims he cannot remember making such an agreement.
Van Aartsen remains 100 percent committed to the extension of Bolkestein's contract, diluting rumours that party colleague and present Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm will take up the Brussels-based post.
According to the VVD parliamentary leader, the 70-year-old Bolkestein has a good position in the EC and the Netherlands should exploit that next year when portfolios are shared among 25 nations when the EU expands to include eastern Europe.
"The best successor for Bolkestein is Bolkestein himself," Van Aartsen said.
Meanwhile, Van Aartsen said he has requested Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende to delay the already drawn-out negotiations over a new European Constitution.
He said if discussions extend into the second half of 2004 — when the Netherlands will hold the six-month rotating EU presidency — the Dutch government would maximise its chances of fulfilling constitutional demands in the final text.
Van Aartsen claims the present constitution proposal — which has raised serious discussions around EU defence policy, the role of foreign ministers, voting procedures, the extension of majority voting and references to God — is unacceptable.
The VVD has proposed staging a referendum to gauge Dutch support for the constitution. The Liberal party is opposed to constitutional proposals in which some member states will no longer have an EC commissioner with voting rights and plans to do away with the rotating presidency.
Meanwhile, it was hoped that the constitution could be determined by Christmas, but it has recently been suggested that talks could extend into the New Year, when Ireland will take over the EU presidency from Italy.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news