The European Union (EU) is the largest partnership in Europe. It was established after the Second World War, when people realized that conflicts should be prevented through cooperation and that cross-border issues could best be addressed jointly.
The Netherlands is an EU-member state and decides on these issues in consultation with the other 28 member states. In the course of time, the EU has gained authority in an increasing number of areas, which means that the member states have ceded their authority in these areas to the EU. However, this is only the case when cooperation is more effective than individual member states dealing with an issue.
Typically European issues
Crime does not respect borders: criminal organisations are increasingly active in more than one country at the same time. The introduction of the European arrest warrant has made it easier to extradite suspects of terrorist activities from one EU member state to another. Moreover, the EU-countries have decided that telecom and Internet providers must keep certain data for the purpose of a possible criminal investigation.
Protection of the environment
Environmental pollution does not stop at national borders. Trying to achieve results in international cooperation with several other countries will strengthen a country's position. Meanwhile, many people have become aware of the need for swift action in this field. Two concrete examples are air and water quality.
Together we have decided that the air must become cleaner in Europe. The Dutch government has drawn up a plan to solve air quality related problems. This plan is intended to tackle health problems and to prevent a standstill in spatial development at the same time. The European Commission is of the opinion that the Dutch Government has drawn up a good plan and has granted the Netherlands more time to meet the European air quality standards.
Without this delay, the Netherlands would not have been able to comply with the European air quality standards in time. Nitrates and phosphates cause harm to the environment. European legislation is needed to reduce the amount of manure, since manure contains nitrates and phosphates.
The Dutch law has already been modified, requiring Dutch farmers to produce less manure, and the manure to be processed more effectively. Eventually, this could have an impact on the total number of livestock in the Netherlands.
Sixteen European countries use the single European currency known as the euro. The euro was introduced in 2002. In the course of time almost every member state will join the euro. The value of having a strong single currency has become clear to many people during the financial crisis.
Open telecom market
For a long time the telecom market in the EU member states was dominated by a few large companies. In 1998 the European rules with regard to the telephone service market were altered. Since then the number of telecom service providers has been increasing in all the EU member states, including the Netherlands.
The telecom service providers offer competitive tariffs for national and international calls, consumers are free to choose their provider and they are paying less and less for their telephone calls. As a result, Dutch KPN telecom lost its monopoly position in the Netherlands.
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications
Europe has made commitments in the field of transparency of professional qualifications. The aim is that diplomas awarded in one country will be recognised in other European countries in order to enhance workers' mobility within the EU.
- Is it necessary to deal with a matter at European level
In order to prevent Brussels from getting involved in too many issues, the national parliaments of the EU member states have made an arrangement to assess European proposals against the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The key question is whether or not it is necessary to deal with an issue at European level.
- Parliamentary reservation
Sometimes an issue affects the Netherlands to the extent that parliament asks the government not to agree to a proposal before a debate with the House of Representatives has taken place on the issue.
- Objections to an European Public Prosecutor's Office
The House of Representatives objects to the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO).
- State of affairs in the European Union
Once every year, shortly after the state opening of Parliament on Prince's Day, the House of Representatives holds a debate about the State of affairs in the European Union, a paper in which the Cabinet sets out its policy on European issues.
- The impact of European legislation on the Netherlands
Member states play an important role in the implementation of European legislation. European regulations apply directly, whereas directives have to be incorporated into national law.
- The impact of the EU on the Netherlands
More than half of the Dutch legislation is EU-initiated, including laws in the field of tackling crime, the environment, education, the free market and transport. These laws have an impact on all the Dutch citizens.
- The Netherlands' position in Brussels
It is very important that Dutch MPs know what is going on in Europe. In order to enable MPs to exercise influence on the European policy-making, there is frequent consultation between the House of Representatives and the government. The House always discusses the position to be taken in Brussels in advance with the minister in charge. That is how the democratic control by the Dutch parliament of the decision-making process in Brussels is assured.