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European Integration

 

The Dutch have the reputation of being enthusiastic subscribers to the

ideal of an integrated Europe. The practice of European integration,

however, is not always as wholeheartedly embraced: the Netherlands has

been one of the slowest member states in implementing measures under the

single market. But Europe is not an issue on the political agenda: no

major political party questions EC membership, and surveys consistently

show higher than average popular support for European unification in the

Netherlands. From the Dutch point of view the EC has fulfilled its two

main promises. It has been almost too successful in cementing Germany

not only militarily (through NATO) but also economically into Western

alliances, and the Dutch are now wary of a French—German directorate

within the Community. The second promise, of fostering Dutch economic

growth by demolishing obstacles to trade (two-thirds of Dutch industrial

exports is to other member states), has also been a success, and the

Netherlands has, until 1992, always been a net earner from the EC.

 

Interestingly enough, the Dutch had to overcome initial hesitations

before developing their pro-Europe attitude. When the European Coal and

Steel Community was set up, the Dutch objected to a supranational

authority, whereas supranationality was later to become one of the

characteristic Dutch desires in Brussels. Another source of hesitation

was even more curious: fear (by all major parties except the KVP), of a

papist Europe. This fear even had an impact on the composition of the

1952-6 Cabinet. In Chapter 2 we noted that in 1952 the portfolio of

Foreign Affairs fell to the KVP, but that the other parties balked at

the prospect of all the Foreign Secretaries in the EC being Catholics.

As a compromise a non-partisan Minister of Foreign Affairs, the banker

Beyen, was appointed, in addition to whom the Catholic diplomat Joseph

Luns became minister without portfolio, with the right to call himself

Foreign Secretary when abroad. When asked why the Netherlands had two

Ministers of Foreign Affairs, his stock reply was that, the Netherlands

being such a small country, the rest of the world was too large an area

to be covered by just one minister. Ironically, it was the Catholic Luns

who turned out to be a staunch Atlanticist, and it was Beyen who became

one of the founding fathers of the Community. The latter succeeded,

together with Belgium's Foreign Secretary, Spaak, in laying the

foundations of the EC Treaty after attempts at a European Defence

Community and a European Political Community had foundered in 1954.

 

Once these initial hesitations were overcome, two important obstacles to

European integration remained: a fear of domination by one or more of

the larger member states, and an emphasis on Atlantic cooperation in the

areas of defence and foreign policy. Because of these reservations it

has been argued that the Dutch Foreign Office sought to model 'Europe as

a greater Holland'. The fear of a directorate of larger countries,

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