Today’s meeting of the Intergroup Constitution saw a highly interesting and very honest exchange of views between Dutch MEPs. Thijs Berman (Social Democrats), Erik Meijer (Socialist / GUE), Jules Maaten (VVD / Liberal) and Joost Lagendijk (Greens) discussed the consequences of the Dutch elections on future EU policy and in particular towards a Constitutional settlement. Unfortunately, no MEP from the CDA turned up. Maybe a sign of the value they put to EU affairs? However, I understood there are a few consensual conclusions from this discussion:
1. The result of the elections have led to such a complicated situation that the formation of a new government will be a matter of months. It is a pretty realistic option that there might not even be a new government at the June Summit 2007.
2. It will be very hard for the next government to avoid another (national) referendum on a new/changed text.
3. If it would be to MEPs the national debate inside and between the Dutch parties would probably have seen a much more ambitious European agenda and debate.
4. There is the danger of a Dutch way towards a “realist multilateralism” with a strong(er) emphasis on Dutch national interest (whatever that will be then) when it comes to EU and wider international affairs (UN etc). This option has been presented in a very thoughtful article (as PDF) by current foreign minister Bot (CDA). If the Christian Democrats really want to go down the way of a nationalist EU policy, we would surely get serious problems. I can only hope that this guy, who has brought enough trouble to the Dutch European debate, will not be a part of any future government but turn to retirement where he belongs.
Unfortunately, the debate took quite some time. But what I really want to know for the Dutch context is this. Does the complete absence of any pro-European civil society organisation have any influence on the rather negative EU debate in the Netherlands? Is any healing in sight?
At the end of the meeting it was shortly discussed what the Intergroup can do to contribute to Altiero Spinelli’s 100th birthday on 29 August 2007. Apparently, AFCO is planning a symposium in their first meeting in September. But maybe we can also connect these activities with JEF’s foreseen European Vibes’ winners presentation during the same week?