Doublespeak in Brussels

25-11-2012 • Recently we voted at the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg on a report on the European Monetary Union. The report contained a passage which called for a drive towards a ‘federal Europe’. If you listen to Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte, you would imagine that the two ruling parties in the Netherlands, his own centre-right VVD and the PvdA, the Dutch Labour Party, would have immediately voted against this report. The government wants to move slowly with regard to Europe, doesn’t it?  Yet the opposite turns out to be the case. Two of Labour’s three MEPs voted in favour, while the third abstained. The VVD delegation was even more divided, with one in favour, one against and one abstaining.

It is generally the case that Euro-MPs are more inclined to ‘think European’ than are national politicians and for that reason are more often in favour of transferring powers to Brussels than are their colleagues at home.  That’s easy to understand: as a Euro-MP you are after all by definition more involved in making European law. Only through intensive contact with the Netherlands can a Dutch MEP, for instance, avoid drifting away from his or her own voters and many rather neglect this.

In the case of Labour and the VVD, however, this has slowly but certainly gone too far. Not only are their MEPs in favour of a considerable increase in the EU budget, this week a majority of them have turned out to be for a federal Europe, despite the fact that during the debates which preceded our national elections in September, the leaders of both parties said that they wanted to go easy on any further handover of powers to Europe. There are only two conclusions possible: either both parties are a shambles and their MPs have drifted away from their own parties’ positions, or the MEPs  do indeed represent the actual views of their parties. It’s just that their leaders don’t dare to come out with these views openly.

Moreover, the Labour Party and the VVD were not the only ones to vote for a federal Europe. They were joined by the centrist D66 and the centre-left Green Left, but that’s what you’d expect from these parties. More surprising is that the entire Christian Democrat group did the same. It’s a pity that the Dutch media gave no attention to this vote, for if they had done so, then the voters who do not want a federal Europe would know that they could expect nothing from these parties.

Dennis de Jong represents the Socialist Party of the Netherlands in the European Parliament, where it is affiliated to the United Left Group-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL).

illustration  © European Union 2012 - European Parliament