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Dutch sway European Union member states in treaty talks

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BRUSSELS Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende achieved most of his objectives at the recent European Union summit, chaired by German chancellor Angela Merkel. The EU constitution concept is now a regular treaty while the anthem and flag failed to get acknowledged in the document. The Manifest of Basic Rights, while binding, is a document on its own. The EU will only have a coordinator or representative for Foreign Affairs, not a minister. The roles of the Parliaments of EU member states will increase. The member states will also be able to launch a procedure to challenge EU decisions if a majority of parliaments support such a move (an orange card). The Dutch also blocked the EU-creep in which it could gain authority over matters over time. Typical Dutch services such as public Housing Corporations, Pension Funds (both economically powerful policy instruments each with huge assets) and Health Care institutions remain the prerogative of member states. In the coming months, Dutch political parties are bound to debate intensely the question of whether the treaty needs to be put to another referendum.