Position Paper / White Paper

Netherlands EU - 2018 - Topic 2


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Kingdom of the Netherlands

The European Union, 2018

The Protection of Democracy Within the EU

 

The European Union was founded with the idea that close economic ties between member states would foster a more peaceful and democratic continent. However, in recent years, opposition to the EU itself has risen, as an extension of a growing opposition towards supranationalism. Populist and nationalist views have been on the rise across Europe, particularly in Poland and Hungary, where authoritarian views are being fostered. The European Union has enjoyed an alliance with the United States for many years, but with President Trump in office, the internationalist view that has occupied America for many years is beginning to shift further towards nationalism, placing strain on international relations between the EU and the United States. Russia, the neighbor to the east, places strain upon the relationships many countries have with the EU, as the European Union is forced to take a position as the modern-day champion of democracy. Within the EU, there are also numerous threats to democracy; coalition governments have been known to destabilize countries, and the European Union is made up of numerous countries that use coalitions on the national level, many of which are beginning to see instability. Anti-democracy sentiments, especially in Poland and Hungary, are on the rise. In Hungary, it has become illegal to help migrants and refugees, in direct violation of the EU’s obligation to provide refuge for any displaced persons. Referendums, too, pose an interesting challenge, as though they are a form of direct democracy, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pass a democratic referendum into law. Election meddling by Russia has also been a source of uncertainty in many member states, as this also directly influences democracy. Euroscepticism is on the rise across the European Union, and many countries are angered by recent refugee policies.

Brexit has contributed to growing euroscepticism in the Netherlands, and after the 2016 Brexit referendum, Geert Wilders of the far-right PVV tweeted “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum.” As it stands, however, advisory referendums have been abolished under a new 2018 law, in accordance with the ruling center-right’s beliefs about previous Dutch referendums which caused confusion and chaos, such as a failed EU-Ukraine association accord, which “paralyzed EU foreign policy”. The Netherlands is well aware of the fact that referendums can often have the opposite result as intended, resulting in political instability and confusion. However, political confusion is already on the rise in the Netherlands; the current coalition, between 4 parties with widely differing views, took a record 208 days to form. However, the Netherlands considers itself to be one of the most democratic nations in the European Union; the rise of euroscepticism has been controlled and minimal, especially as compared to Poland and Hungary.

The Netherlands is of the opinion that in order to obtain a higher voter turnout for referendums, and therefore have more democratic referendums, it is necessary to incentivize referendum voting in countries that hold referendums, in order to obtain a better grasp on the true political climate of a country. Democracy is one of the key tenets of the European Union, and it is critical that democracy be maintained as the European Union takes a larger role on the global scale. As euroscepticism rises, countries must remember the obligation that they have to other member states and to the European Union at large, as well as the obligation a country has to its citizens. The government must represent the views of its citizens accurately, which can only be a result of democratic operations. The Netherlands believes that countries should work with their private sectors in order to ensure that propaganda is not being spread, and that coalition governments, while unstable, must be reformed at a reasonable pace, as opposed to suddenly, but also acknowledges that coalition reform is a choice that only individual countries can make reasonably. The Netherlands acknowledges that the government of Poland does not always align itself with regulations that would contribute to the enforcement of the EU’s core tenets; however, the Netherlands also recognizes that the voting rights of Poland should not be taken away, as this will likely foster more euroscepticism. The European Union must strongly encourage democracy in all member states and condemn practices that threaten democracy, though it should not be able to directly interfere with the governments of member states that are undemocratic, as this is a violation of the country’s right to preside over itself.

 

Barber, Tony. “Why the Netherlands Is Rejecting Referendums.” Financial Times, Financial Times, 26 Feb. 2018, www.ft.com/content/06166110-1af0-11e8-aaca-4574d7dabfb6.

 

“Democracy.” EU, europarlamentti.info/en/values-and-objectives/democracy/.

 

Henley, Jon. “Dutch Parties Agree Coalition Government after a Record 208 Days.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Oct. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/09/dutch-politicians-ready-form-government-election-coalition.

 

Henley, Jon. “Europe's Governments Signal Relief after Dutch Election Defeats Far Right.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/16/europes-governments-signal-relief-as-dutch-election-defeats-far-right.

 

“How the Dutch Will Take Britain's Place in Europe.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 31 Mar. 2018, www.economist.com/europe/2018/03/31/how-the-dutch-will-take-britains-place-in-europe.