Two developments are decisive for the future of Europe. At the EU Summit in Dublin new deals were made about the European Monetary Union (EMU). In January 1999 the EMU will start and in 2002 we pay with one European coin. To be allowed to enter the EMU the Member States carry out a rigid policy of cuts in public expenditure. "Market, market and more market" is the slogan. The Maastricht conditions result in the dismantling of social security and public services all over Europe. The unemployme nt, now already more than 18 million in the EU, is growing further. The sales are on for state companies and public utilities, to make the housekeeping book fit. Those countries who do not manage cannot take part in the coregroup. In this way a Europe of different speeds is threathening to emerge. A Europa which causes deeper divides between people and countries.
Moreover, the 15 member states are negotiating the revision of the Maastricht Treaty. These negotiations should, according to plan, result in the Treaty of Amsterdam. This is supposed to bring more common action on foreign and security policy, as well as police and juridical cooperation. The process resembles horsetrading in which different - national - interests are traded off against each other. Both developments will decide the character of the European Union, and therefore the daily lives of Europe an citizens. In a number of countries citizens have been able to express their opinion in a referendum about joining Europe. It is unacceptable that untill today there hasn't been a broad public debate in the Netherlands about the opportunities and risks of European intergration.
Large corporations and the ministers of finance and economy most of all want more economic growth in Europe. But this Europe produces more and more, with fewer and fewer people. Many people, especially women and migrants, want to work. The care sector, education and the environment desperately needs people and investments. The current growth for the sake of growth causes increasing environmental destruction and leads to an enormous - and often unnecessary - shifting around of goods and people. Mainport s and Trans-European Networks - concrete, highspeed trains and airports - rise all over Europe. This Europe is bad for both employment and the environment.
European opinion polls show that solving the massive unemployment is the main concern of the citizens of the Union. But in this Union more than 18 million people are left unemployed at the side. The trade unions and some political parties set their hop es on a "social paragraph" and an unemployment chapter in the Treaty of Amsterdam. But "killjoy" John Major is not the only one: also prime minister Kok's main assistent Geelhoed considers this to be nonsense. In this way the Europe of labour will never balance the Europe of the single market and currency.
Besides jobs the European citizens consider democracy and European citizens rights the main priority.
But the negotiations about the new treaty take place behind closed doors. National parliaments nor the European Parliament have any say about crucial matters. Checks and balances? What is that? Not only in Brussels,things are untransparent: most often it is unclear with which mandate our ministers enter the negotiations. The European citizenship is unsatisfactory, immigrants are not included. Democratic control? Getting your right at the European Court of Justice? Forget it!
After the Dublin Summit, the scary image of a European control state is taking shape. Will Europol indeed get far-reaching powers - a la FBI -, without democratic controle, without protecting the citizen against arbitrariness? Will the Schengen Treaty, which is keeping asylum seekers ouside the borders, really become a part of the Treaty of Amsterdam? Will the repeatedly declared war of Kohl and Chirac against the "international drugsmafia" indeed mean the end of the Dutch drugs policy?
The question is not Europe or the Netherlands. The question is: what kind of Europe, for who and by whom?
The Dutch Coalition for a Different Europe is a colourful gathering of political parties, womens groups and environmental movements, solidarity groups for refugees and Third World, interest groups, NGOs, antimilitarist and peace groups.
"Our Europe must be a Europe that carries out a strong social and environmental policy, creates jobs, eliminates the democratic deficit, offers equal opportunities to women and men, safeguards the rule of law, is hospitable to refugees, is open to th e East and in solidarity with the South, disarms in order to contribute to peace, and promotes sustainable development both inside and outside Europe", so the Dutch Coalition states.
The Dutch Coalition for a Different Europe will during the EU Summit, often together with others, also from abroad, organise actions and debates and follow the Dutch presidency critically. Giving a multitude of opinions and proposals a chance to be heard is a main aim.
(*): Kok is Prime Minister, van Mierlo is Minister of Foreign Affairs, Schelto Patijn is Dutch chief negotiator in the IGC, and his brother is the mayor of Amsterdam.