The Constants of Dutch Foreign Policy

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Officially, the Dutch have always worried about the 'European democratic deficit': decision-making increasingly shifts to Brussels, where it is outside the purview of national parliaments. This gap in democratic accountability should be filled by a competent European Parliament. The introduction of direct elections to the European Parliament, first held in 1979, was celebrated as a Dutch victory for democracy. Turnout for these elections was low everywhere, but it was particularly disappointing in the Netherlands. This has not helped much in giving the supranational Parliament democratic legitimacy, but the low turnout has only strengthened the resolve of the Dutch government to push for more powers for the European Parliament, claiming that the low turnout is caused by a reluctance to vote for a third-rate legislature. It is difficult- to ascertain to what degree this concern for European democracy is real, or whether it merely serves as a flag of convenience under which to strengthen the supranational character of the Community in defence of Dutch national interests.

Whatever explanation is the correct one, it should be emphasized that the campaign for supranationalism has always taken second place to the Atlantic orientation in Dutch European policy. It is in the interest of Dutch trade that the Netherlands has always attempted to prevent the development of a 'fortress Europe' by welcoming the accession of new member states, and by objecting to European protectionism. Yet, within that framework, the Atlantic orientation has always been given precedence. Dutch Atlanticism is evidenced by a reluctance to extend European cooperation to defence and foreign policy, and by its support of British applications for membership of the Community. The Dutch attitude is epitomised by Foreign Secretary Luns's finest hour: his 'no' to De Gaulle's aspirations in 1961-2. In 1960 the French President announced his proposals for a European Political Union, which included taking over some of NATO's military responsibilities, and in which European institutions would be firmly controlled by intergovernmental bodies. The circumstance that France was the only nuclear power within the Europe of the original six member states, and De Gaulle's suggestion that the new political union's secretariat be located in Paris, provided sufficient fuel for fear of a Gaullist Europe. This anxiety, the lack of supranational elements in the proposal, and the challenge to America's leadership of the Alliance by the formation of a French-led European defence bloc within NATO, all ran counter to established Dutch foreign policy precepts. Irritation over the plans mounted when De Gaulle secured German (and Italian) support on the eve of the 1961 meeting where the proposals were to be discussed. All other member states, except the Netherlands, agreed to under­write the French plans. Much to the surprise of Europe's two most venerable statesmen, De Gaulle and Adenauer, their proposal was thwarted by a Minister of Foreign Affairs (not even a head of state or government) from a small country. Luns demanded that the political union should not affect NATO, and that it-should develop supranational institutions. He was willing to drop these conditions, however, provided that the UK was included.

This last element, which became known as the Dutch prealable Anglais, is interesting since it shows that for the Netherlands Atlanticism took priority over supranationalism. Because of Britain's special relationship with the USA, its accession to the Community would provide the Dutch with a powerful ally in promoting an Atlantic orientation within the EG. At the same time it was well known that the British were, (and still are) excessively wary of transferring some of their national sovereignty to a supranational organisation. The Dutch could not hope to get support for their plans in that direction from British membership of the Community. After the inconclusive 1961 summit the Dutch were gradually forced to accept compromise proposals, and they might have lost their struggle had not De Gaulle 'snatched defeat from the jaws of victory' by rejecting the compromises, reverting to his original plan, and vetoing British membership. In 1962 the Netherlands, now joined by Belgium, once again (and this time definitely) vetoed the proposals.

Реферат опубликован: 17/03/2009