Many eurosceptic treatises, such as the recent report saying the Netherlands would be better off quitting the European Union, are exaggerated and unconvincing. But mounting euroscepticism could still have a silver lining if it helps those wishing to reform the EU advance their agenda.
Few people think the Netherlands is close to quitting the EU. In this way, it is different from the UK, where exit is a genuine possibility. That said, euroscepticism is on the rise following years of economic stagnation. The right-wing Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, is leading in the opinion polls and is likely to be the largest party in May’s European Parliament elections. Other eurosceptic and nationalist parties such as France’s National Front and Britain’s UK Independence Party are also likely to perform well.
To see what is wrong with the eurosceptics’ arguments, look no further than the study on “Nexit” – the Netherlands’ potential exit from the EU – commissioned by Wilders and written by Capital Economics, a London-based consultancy. Although the case for Nexit has been dressed up about as well as it is possible to do so, it is still full of holes.
A Nexit would have two elements: quitting the EU and quitting the euro. It would, therefore, be a combination of Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) and Grexit (Greece leaving the single currency). According to Capital Economics, exiting both the euro and the EU would be beneficial for the Dutch.
Look first at leaving the single currency. Capital Economics thinks this could be achieved relatively painlessly. The advantages would be that the Netherlands would not be exposed to the risk of bailing out other euro countries and that it would be free to run much looser monetary and fiscal policies to boost its economy.