Rediscovering Europe in the Netherlands

National politicians and policymakers should take the lead in identifying major issues facing Europe. They must explicitly promote their choices and explain them. Only then will Dutch citizens be willing in the future to accept the legitimacy of new EU policies, the WRR concludes in its report Rediscovering Europe in the Netherlands (Report no. 78, 2007).

A future-proof policy

In the referendum held in June 2005, the Dutch people rejected the European Constitutional Treaty. The government then asked the WRR for its advice on ways of strengthening the political and social anchoring of EU policies in the Netherlands. In its report the WRR suggests a variety of instruments for a future-proof EU policy in the Netherlands. The aim of the proposals is to make Europe more relevant, more visible and, above all, more political in the Netherlands.

Strategic role for the prime minister

For example, guarantees about the significance and aims of the Netherlands’ EU membership should be inserted in the Dutch Constitution. The WRR also advocates a more strategic role for the prime minister in European affairs and calls for the introduction of a ‘preferendum’ rather than a referendum. In a preferendum, citizens would be presented with a number of substantive alternatives at an early stage of the policy-making process, rather than a simple yes-or-no question after the fact.

The WRR published this report at the request of the government.