The Netherlands has drawn up a list of subjects which it considers should be left to the Dutch rather than Brussels to decide.
The cabinet says a number of policy areas should be left to individual member states because ‘the time for an ever closer union in every possible arena is over’.
The new strategy is outlined in a briefing to parliament by foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans. The aim is not to renegotiate treaties but to decide if the division of tasks between Europe and member states is as it should be.
‘The Netherlands hopes this initiative will stimulate a process which takes as its starting point: European policy where necessary, national policy where it can,’ the minister wrote.
For example, the EU should not interfere in ‘media diversity’, there should be no further harmonisation of EU social benefits, and health and safety regulations should only be the subject of a broad European outline, the briefing states.
In terms of flood risks, Europe should only be able to make agreements which affect cross-border rivers and there should be an end to EU programmes for school milk and school fruit.
The list has been compiled following discussions with all cabinet ministers and will now be debated in parliament.
Despite the wish for less interference from Brussels, European cooperation remains essential in a large number of policy areas, including the financial crisis, energy, immigration and defence, the document said.
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