Semn de întrebare
Semn de întrebare
Interviu cu Peter van Dalen realizat de Aurora Martin
- Member of the European Parliament, wants
to in-troduce the Christian perspective in the Parliament. Van Dalen represents
the Dutch Christian Union and is a member of the European Conservatives and
Reformists (ECR) Group. He has a clear vision of Europe’s future:,, The
Christian Union wants the European Union to limit its activities to its
spe-cific European tasks and activities. Europe needs to know it’s boundaries,
both in terms of geography and in terms of policy. In one motto: Euro-pean
cooperation yes, superstate no”.
European cooperation yes, superstate no
Q: Could you tell us something about your background? What were you doing before becoming an MEP?
A: Before I was elected to the European Parliament in June 2009, I was director- chief inspector at the Dutch Transport Ministry. I was responsible for security issues and environmental affairs, first concerning inland shipping and later aviation. I’ve also been active for many years within the Christian Union as representative on a town council and as party advisor.
Q: And what does your current function as MEP entail?
A: As MEP you are relatively free to take up the issues you think are most important. I work as vice-chairman of the Transport and Tourism Committee and I am active on the Environment and Employment Committees. I am also a member of the India-delegation of the Parliament. Besides that I am regularly involved in issues of human rights and religious freedom. These are key-issues for the Christian Union.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your party in the Netherlands? And about the political group in the EP that you’ve joined?
A: The Christian Union is a young party, established ten years ago by two Christian parties that joined forces. We like to label ourselves a ‘Christian-social’ party, with a focus on sustainability and the family.
In the European Parliament the Christian Union joined the ECR Group. We share the motto: ‘Europe: yes, superstate: no’. This was our campaign slogan during the elections for the EP. As a political group we have formulated ten principles in our Prague Declaration. Among these principles are the sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition against European Union federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity. We also want to end waste and excessive bureaucracy and bind the European institutions to fair and transparent spending policies. As Christian Union we made sure the ECR Group strives at fair world trade and recognizes the importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
Q: You’ve already mentioned some important themes. Could you elaborate a bit further on the sort of Europe that you envision?
A: In recent times we are blessed with peace, relative stability and economic prosperity in Europe. This is especially true if you compare our continent with other parts of the world. We must continue to work for the protection and improvement of these achievements. We do this together in Europe, where the Netherlands cannot do it alone. Peace, stability and prosperity are closely knit together. The unequal distribution of wealth in the world causes tensions, strive and migration flows. Europe cannot put a fence around its economy and leave the rest of the world to itself. Europe can promote peace, prosperity and stability. Europe can do so particularly in its Central and Eastern countries. Only through open borders, a properly functioning internal market and reliable judicial systems can these countries share what the Netherlands and other Western European countries have enjoyed for many decades. We also want a Europe that stands for human rights and religious freedom. But the Union needs to know its boundaries as well. The Christian Union does not believe that Turkey should be an EU member state.
The Christian Union wants the European Union to limit its activities to its specific European tasks and activities. Europe needs to know its boundaries, both in geographical terms and when it comes to the extent of its policies. We stand for clear, transparent and efficient governance, kept in check by the European and the many national Parliaments. But Europe should not interfere with matters such as education, pensions and medical-ethical issues. This can be done by the member states themselves.
Q: In which direction is Europe heading? What are positive and negative sides of the development of the European Union?
A: The EP has a strong current representing the goal of further federalization of Europe. We see that constantly more power is given to the European Union, at the expense of the member states. This embodies the ideal of far reaching European integration and unification. I am not a supporter of this movement. I and we as ECR Group want a Europe that does less, but performs better. Currently, that sound is not dominant in the Parliament, but definitely shared by broad sections of the population.
The Netherlands is not the only country with national elections coming up shortly. Hungary and the United Kingdom just had elections and Belgium will also go to the polls shortly. If in all these countries the political powers change, this may affect the policies made in Europe. With the Conservatives in power now in the UK, we’ll hear a very different sound in the Council of the European Union. The trend towards a more federal Europe may change, towards a more realistic sound, which is exactly what the ECR Group stands for.
Q: What do you think of the Lisbon Treaty? Is this Treaty a positive step forward for Europe or is the sovereignty of member countries at risk and are we heading to a Super State? What are pitfalls in the Convention?
A: This is a difficult question. First of all, the convention is an improvement over the previous situation in terms of democracy. Think for example of the increased power of the European Parliament and the possibility of initiating a Citizens Initiative. But, Europe is increasing its power with this Treaty. For example, we now have a kind of Foreign Secretary, Madam Ashton, with her own diplomatic service. In that sense it is a step toward federalization, and that’s not something to be happy about.
Q: How do you envisage the future of Europe. What are the real challenges?
A: My ideal for Europe is expressed pretty good by our election slogan, „Cooperation YES, super state NO”. Europe must work together where necessary, but I am very committed to subsidiarity. The danger is that Europe is interfering too much in areas where the States themselves could handle their own policies very well.
The main challenge therefore remains to ensure that we maintain a strong and reliable cooperation in areas where needed, yet keep an eye on subsidiarity. Illustrative is the joint work on a response to the financial problems in Greece and the creation of a European emergency fund. This is necessary to set things right in the Eurozone, but we should be careful in handing over power to the EU. That’s only justified when needed. The problems should not be used to weaken the grip of the Member States on their own policies.