BRUSSELS, October 7 -- Dutch politician Frans Timmermans, the right-hand man of incoming EU head Jean-Claude Juncker, on Tuesday promised to restore confidence in Brussels by making it less simpler and less intrusive.
Timmermans told his confirmation hearing as first vice-president of the European Commission that the union must do more to fight rising euroscepticism, especially in Britain, which is due to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017. His call comes after anti-EU parties made large gains in European Parliament elections in May as they capitalised on this widespread disillusionment with Brussels at a time of economic stagnation and high unemployment.
"We need to show by very practical results that the EU and its institutions are not self-serving but are there to serve our citizens and member states," he said in his opening speech.
Timmermans -- the Dutch foreign minister who espouses "football diplomacy" as a way of bringing people together -- said that the EU could in fact be more effective by taking a smaller role in people's lives.
"The EU should do what can only be done by the EU and should leave to member states what can be better done by them," he said.
To reinforce the message, Timmermans, who will rank second only to Juncker in the new European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said he would review existing policy proposals awaiting implementation and withdraw any found unnecessary. He said there had to be "greater transparency within the Brussls bubble," promising to push through an accord on a register of lobbyists in the EU.
Brussels is home to the many of the EU's main institutions and to many thousands of lobbyists all seeking to gain an inside track with politicians and officials on a myriad of issues.