Citizens initiative fails to win parliament's support for EU referendum
Efforts by a so-called citizens’ initiative to hold a referendum in the Netherlands if more powers are to be transferred to Brussels failed to win majority support in parliament on Tuesday night.
More than 63,000 people signed a petition calling for a debate on the EU's powers which, it said, are having an impact on the ‘core of Dutch democracy'. By attracting more than 60,000 signatories, the initiative's backers were able to force parliament to debate the issue.
Thierry Baudet, the man behind the petition, addressed MPs during the debate. The EU is gradually taking power away from national governments, he said.
‘The decision-making powers of the European Union are increasing across the board,' he said. ‘Now banking union is on the horizon, a budget union, European immigration and asylum policy, a European foreign service and centrally-coordinated defence.'
Foreign minister Frans Timmermans praised the initiative for its work but denied there is a ‘creeping transfer' of power to Brussels.
Last year the lower house approved draft legislation to allow ‘advisory referendums' on controversial topics, if supporters can gather 300,000 signatures. That proposal is now on the senate's agenda.