European Union

   In 1957, the Netherlands was an active participant in the founding of the partially supranational and partially intergovernmental European Economic Community (EEC)—as it had been of its more specialized predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952—and European Atomic Energy Commission (EURATOM), which were merged into the European Community (EC) in 1967. In 1993, this organization was given broader powers under a treaty negotiated in the Dutch city of Maas tricht and was renamed the European Union. In the same year, the Netherlands was also one of the first five so-called Schengen coun tries that started opening their borders to one another without pass port controls. The next stage involved a common currency—the euro—for certain EU members. In 1998, the European Bank was es tablished, with the Dutchman Wim Duisenberg as its first president. He guided the introduction of the euro in 2002. Dutch governments have always strongly supported all steps to ward closer economic, monetary, and political integration in Europe, and Dutch leaders often sought compromises. However, expansion of the EU, to 27 member states in 2007 with more likely to come in the next years, has diminished their influence. Furthermore, a part of the Dutch population has become quite “euroskeptical” recently. In a ref erendum in 2005, a majority of Dutch voters rejected the treaty es tablishing a European constitution, which the European heads of gov ernment had signed in the previous year. Since then, the Dutch government has worked for a reduction of the country’s contribution to the EU. Yet in 2006, the Netherlands was still the EU’s largest net payer. Other issues that cause dissatisfaction, fear, and debate are, for example, the EU’s perceived bureaucracy and interference, loss of national identity, the arrival of workers from the new Eastern Euro pean member states that may cause unemployment, and the possible future membership of Turkey.
   Some of the Dutch members of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, were particularly noteworthy, including Sicco Mansholt, Frans Andriessen, Hans van den Broek, and Frits Bolkestein. The European Police Office (EUROPOL) and Eurojust (a body for criminal justice cooperation and coordination) have their seat in The Hague.
   See also European Parliament (EP).

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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