In the run-up to the European elections in May 2014 and the appointment of a new European Commission, foreign minister Frans Timmermans is keen to encourage a broad debate in Europe on how to make the European Union not only more effective but also more modest in scope. ‘The Netherlands is not seeking to amend the present treaty,’ said the minister. ‘We are happy with the existing division of powers. We just believe that a shift in emphasis on various issues would be useful.’
Today in Brussels, Mr Timmermans announced that the Netherlands will be hosting an expert conference in The Hague on 23 January 2014 on enhancing the EU’s focus. Entitled ‘Is subsidiarity relevant for better EU governance?’, the conference is being organised in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations at Clingendael and the Centre for European Policy Studies. There was a positive response to this announcement from the assembled EU ministers in Brussels. They were particularly pleased about efforts to carry on the debate so political agreements could be made when the new European Commission and Parliament take office.
In recent months, the Commission and other member states had already expressed interest in a discussion on reducing the Union’s regulatory burden and enhancing the Union’s effectiveness in areas where cooperation is most crucial, such as the financial and economic crisis, energy, climate, asylum and migration policy, completion of the internal market, and defence. Last week, Mr Timmermans publicly expounded on the need for additional reforms in the EU. The Netherlands hopes that the outcome of the conference will serve as a basis for further discussion and decision-making by European ministers.
In June of this year the Government identified a series of policy areas where it felt that the EU could be less actively involved. The Government’s motto is ‘European where necessary, national where possible’.
Source: Dutch government