Parliament supports plan for EU treaty
22 March 2007, AMSTERDAM – The government's plan to reach a new European treaty has broad support in Parliament. The Christian democrats (CDA), Labour party (PvdA), Liberals (VVD), Socialists (SP), ChristenUnie and the Fundamentalist Christian SGP all identify with the main ideas of the cabinet's plan.
22 March 2007
AMSTERDAM – The government's plan to reach a new European treaty has broad support in Parliament. The Christian democrats (CDA), Labour party (PvdA), Liberals (VVD), Socialists (SP), ChristenUnie and the Fundamentalist Christian SGP all identify with the main ideas of the cabinet's plan.
Jan Peter Balkenende and State secretary for European affairs Frans Timmermans were both in Parliament for the debate on the EU on Wednesday.
Green-left GroenLinks, Democrats D66 and the Party for the Animals still have some objections to the plan. GroenLinks does not want to see the charter on human rights left out – this had been included in the draft of the EU constitutional treaty presented to the member states.
D66 says that the government should in fact be participating in Europe more, while the Party for the Animals envisions a much different and smaller EU. Freedom party PVV thinks the EU should be limited to economic cooperation.
The cabinet wants to negotiate on a new treaty with the EU member states, as an alternative for the European Constitution. Citizens in the Netherlands and France rejected this constitution in referenda in 2005.
It is still not clear how the 18 countries that have ratified the constitution so far will feel about a new treaty. The first agreements on this will be made in the coming months under current EU president Germany. The negotiations should be concluded in 2009.
Balkenende said it was going to be a "tough fight, not at all easy" to get past the divided opinions on the topic.
Balkenende and Timmermans said they were pleased with the support in Parliament on Wednesday, despite the criticism on various points.
There was support for the cabinet's essential ideas that a new treaty must delimit national and EU powers more clearly. The treaty may not take on the character of a constitution, but certain elements from the rejected constitutional treaty may be incorporated.
It was remarkable that the SP seemed so amenable to the plans. The SP has always opposed the European constitution because of its neo-liberal character.
SP MP Jasper van Dijk said the cabinet's letter on the plan was a good start. He does want to know how the Netherlands plans to ensure that Brussels does not meddle in areas designated as strictly national responsibilities. The SP agrees with the cabinet that these areas should include healthcare, education and public housing.
The ministers did not want to talk in too much detail about its plans because this could compromise its negotiating position. "The worst thing you can do is give away your stakes from the very beginning," Balkenende said.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]
Subject: Dutch news