Adriaan Schout, a political analyst and expert, is visiting University of Victoria and available to media for interviews this Friday, November 30th. In his opinion
"The anti-European sentiments in The Netherlands were highly misread by journalists and politicians all over the world. The Netherlands has been, as always, pragmatically in favour of European integration and has been constructive in finding solutions for the EU crisis.Yes, the Dutch have been highly critical of major developments in European integration. The Netherlands would like to cut back on the EU budget, it has single-handedly vetoed the accession of Bulgaria and Rumania to the EU¹s free movement of people zone ('Schengen¹), it vetoed the Constitutional Treaty and it has been 'blunt' about supporting problem countries such as Greece. Moreover, The Netherlands has been reluctant at first to enhance powers of the European Commission. All of this has been feeding the impression that the Dutch are changing their minds regarding their traditional position toward the open market and supranationalism.
However, all of this does not need to be seen as anti-European. Evidently there are major challenges facing the EU at present. As a result, there are major political battles going on in the EU. This does not mean that countries such as The Netherlands are turning their backs on European integration. In fact, The Netherlands have continued to be in favour of European integration from a pragmatic perspective. Indeed, it not only supported last year's deeper integration but also proposed independent oversight over national policies by the European Commission. This step was not only a critical element of Greece¹s abilities to manage cutbacks; it also initiated the debates about the haircut on private debts. The criticism on Bulgaria and Rumania was to ensure that failures of premature accessions would not be repeated. The elections of September also proved that voters were in favour of European integration.
Many Dutch positions can actually be regarded as constructive. European politics requires frank discussions. Fights over EU decisions should not be seen as anti-EU. Fights and debates are what politics is all about."