European integration is controversial in most Member States. Germany is caught between a traditionally strong pro-EU narrative and the rise of anti-EU and anti-migration parties. The UK referendum in 2016 displayed the tensions between Bremain and Brexit. The tensions in the French elections are evidenced by Macron's victory in the first round when more contestants were in the race. Such tensions have been persistent, but the reasons for these domestic divisions differ. Each country has its own narratives and counter-narratives as regards European integration and these change over time.
This Paper offers an assessment on the official Dutch EU narrative and of the emerging (EU critical) counter-narrative. Though a mid-sized member state, the Netherlands is of interest because other countries, as emerged in interviews in Nordic countries and Austria, are hoping that the Dutch will take over the British (restraining) role in the EU negotiations, e.g. as regards the EU budget. However, it remains to be seen whether the Dutch will lead the opposition against the France-German axis as traditional motor of integration; the Dutch will most probably continue to be pragmatically constructive. Yet, despite this Dutch constructivism, a counter-narrative is emerging of of frustration over European 'integration by stealth'.
This paper was commisioned for the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (SIEPS) in the context of the SIEPS project on the Future of the European and Monetary Union.