“The Netherlands is convinced that the time of an ‘ever closer union’ in every possible policy area is behind us,” the Dutch government said. Ever closer union is one of the principles of the EU’s treaties.The Dutch paper called for all expansions of EU powers to be explicitly grounded in treaty provisions. It put forward 54 specific competencies, from taxation to coastal management, that the Dutch believe should remain at the national level, following the so-called “subsidiarity” principle.
The FT notes that this document has emboldened the British government, which hopes to re-negotiate its membership in the EU and repatriate some of the powers already ceded to Brussels. German support will be crucial to the UK’s efforts, and a Eurosceptic Netherlands could help get the Germans on board. But given that Dutch are only protesting further union, and not requesting repatriation, it seems like the UK’s celebration might be premature.Either way, the Dutch resistance points to the growing challenges that face the EU. A whole generation of EU leaders has failed their constituents, with the result that Europeans of all ages and nations are facing deep pain and suffering without any end insight. It’s no wonder that the Netherlands released this document when they did—EU austerity is now badly hurting the country. When even the most responsible member states are treated this way, can more euroscepticism around the region be far off?[Broken euro image courtesy of Shutterstock]