Prime minister Mark Rutte takes part in today’s crucial summit in Brussels following a stormy parliamentary debate on Europe in which he came under fire from all sides.
Despite the eurozone crisis, Wednesday’s debate was not about agreeing the Netherlands’ position on the big European issues, commentators said. Instead, party leaders set out their own vision of Europe, ahead of the September general election.
During the debate, Rutte was again attacked for failing to make his position on Europe clear, with a majority of MPs backing a motion calling for greater clarity and transparency on the cabinet’s vision.
In the Netherlands he plays the anti-EU party leader but in Brussels he can’t choose between the German or French positions, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold said.
‘Europe is not going to wait for us,’ Christian Democrat leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma told the prime minister.
During the debate Rutte repeated earlier assurances that he will reject all proposals aimed at handing over more power to Europe, apart from in terms of banking supervision. At the same time, the debate about greater political union, started by German chancellor Angela Merkel, is ‘a baby’s dummy with no taste’, Rutte said. ‘Everyone has their own ideas about it.’
Socialist party leader Emile Roemer, currently riding high in the opinion polls, was also attacked from all quarters.
Labour leader Diederick Samsom said he was irresponsible for refusing to support the bail-out for southern European countries. Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration PVV, accused Roemer of having ‘one leg’ in the Brussels camp.
Outlining the PvdA’s own position, Samsom said the current crisis would allow the end of the ‘money and market-orientated Europe’ and put its citizens central again. This will require the transfer of some powers to Brussels, Samsom said.
The EU summit takes place on Thursday and Friday. According to the BBC, France and German ‘remain at odds on how to move forward, with Germany opposed to pooling debt while France insists the eurozone needs further integration’.
Prime minister attacked for lack of urgency over Brussels
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