As reported by Bloomberg here, the Dutch foreign minister and his German, Finnish and Danish colleagues have sent a letter to the European Commission’s President Barroso, urging the Commission to develop a mechanism for the EU to be able ‘to react swiftly and effectively to ensure compliance’ among its 27 member states with the EU’s fundamental values. This, according to the Financial Times, was a measure prompted by the recent constitutional amendment in Hungary affecting the country’s Constitutional Court. According to the Bloomberg news report, the ministers said in the letter that: ‘There are limits to our institutional arrangements when it comes to ensuring compliance,’ …’Neither the procedures enshrined in the treaties nor the EU fundamental rights charter provide for sufficiently targeted instruments….the Commission, ‘should have a stronger role’ in safeguarding fundamental values. The proposed mechanism ‘should be swift and independent of political expediency’.
So let me get this straight, the Dutch foreign minister and his respective and respected colleagues suggest that when the Netherlands changes its constitutional arrangements, it should be checked by the European Commission? With all respect to the democratic credentials of the Danes, Germans, Finnish and Dutch, they either seem to think that this new monitoring mechanism and the respective instruments would only ever be applied to the new member states – in which case, this would be symptomatic of the two tiered, crypto discriminatory approach to new rules in the enlarged EU (to apply to anyone but Northern Europe?). Or they expect it will apply to them too, in which case they – at least in the Dutch case – forgot to tell the electorate and their fellow politicians they propose an external check on Dutch democracy. I can think of a whole host of Dutch commentators that would be very, very upset…Or is this European integration by stealth again?