Dutch MPs have refused to launch an inquiry into the decision to adopt the euro
Parliamentarians in the Netherlands were forced to discuss the thorny issue after being presented with a 45,000-strong petition calling for a rethink on the single currency.
But despite the public outcry and the growing popularity of anti-EU politicians in the country they flatly refused to take the issue any further, insisting the matter was closed.
The Netherlands joined the euro on its launch date on January 1, 1999, but its potential impact on the Dutch economy has long been a bone of contention with eurosceptics.
In recent months the existence of the entire currency has come into question with a growing backlash against monetary union taking place in southern EU states including Italy and France.
Populist politician Geert Wilders is enjoying rising popularity
The euro is facing a popularity crisis in a number of countries
And the debate was an especially tricky one for mainstream MPs in Holland who are struggling to quell a surge in support for the right-wing populist leader Geert Wilders, who is stridently eurosceptic.
The anti-immigration and anti-Islam leader’s PVV party is expected to secure the largest number of seats in the Dutch parliament in this spring’s elections, although others are refusing to form a coalition with it.
The petition against the euro, which triggered an automatic parliamentary debate after passing a signatures threshold, called on MPs to grill former prime ministers Wim Kok and Ruud Lubbers and ex finance minister Gerrit Zalm on why they decided to join the euro.
We are missing out on economic growth, we have lost our democratic control
Eurosceptic Thierry Baudet
According to the EU Observer, the citizens who started the protest said they were concerned that politicians had only extolled the positives of the single currency and had hoodwinked voters over the possible negatives.
But dismissing the appeal Labour MP Henk Nijboer insisted the decision to join the euro “was taken democratically” and added there had been huge public debate around the issue.
He dismissed the petitioners’ main concern – that the Netherlands has lost control of the ability to devalue its currency – by saying this was widely considered at the time.
Meanwhile his colleague, Wouter Koolmees, of the strongly europhile D66 centrist party, was stronger in his condemnation for the petition and said an inquiry would be a “waste of time”.
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He accused the petitioners – two of whom will try to get elected as MPs of a eurosceptic party this March – of being politically motivated and blasted: “The parliament should not be abused for a political show.”
But in an interview with EU Observer, the leader of the Forum for Democracy party which backed the petition, said the euro had brought “extreme costs” to the Dutch economy.
Thierry Baudet raged: “We are missing out on economic growth, we have lost our democratic control. That is a huge drama. If they knew this would happen, then they lied to us.”