We need to reduce Brussel’s powers, says Dutch CDA leader

The Netherlands needs to get back a large part of the powers it has handed over to Brussels, Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma says in an interview with Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

Speaking ahead of today’s parliamentary debate on Europe, Buma said the European Union should no longer decide about issues which can better be regulated at home. These include putting small building contracts out to tender, press freedom, pension regulations and maternity leave, the CDA leader said.

The CDA also wants an end to European ‘interference’ in environmental policy – such as acceptable levels of nitrates in water and compulsory energy labels for housing.

Europe’s role should be in the financial and economic sphere, he said. ‘We have to get away from this idea that if you want less Europe, you are against it,’ he told the paper.

Budget

Buma’s comments come as the VVD-PvdA coalition is attempting to finalise its position on Europe ahead of next week’s crucial budget talks.

The CDA leader also referred to the recent speech by British prime minister David Cameron in which he outlined plans to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and hold a referendum on membership.

‘He is right [to raise these issues],’ Buma said. ‘We have to say: hang on, let’s get back to the European idea we started with’. The Netherlands was one of the founding members of the European Community, which preceeded the EU.

MPs are later today due to discuss the official Dutch response to Cameron’s speech.

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