Dutch PM demands EU budget cut
9 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has again impressed upon EU President Jean-Claude Juncker the Netherlands wants to pay less into the union's coffers.
9 June 2005
AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has again impressed upon EU President Jean-Claude Juncker the Netherlands wants to pay less into the union's coffers.
The Netherlands is the largest contributor to the EU on a per capita basis and Balkenende said this had to change. "We have again strongly indicated where we stand," the prime minister said.
Luxembourg, which currently holds the EU presidency, proposed reducing the annual Dutch contribution last week by EUR 350 to 500 million. However, the Dutch government said the offer was inadequate.
Balkenende said Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker understands the Dutch position, but is also dealing with the wishes of other EU member states.
Nevertheless, Balkenende hopes to reach a deal over the Netherlands' demands at a crucial EU summit in Brussels next week. He refused to speculate on the consequences if that does not occur.
Balkenende also used his visit to Luxembourg on Wednesday to explain why the Dutch public voted 'no' against the EU Constitution at its 1 June referendum.
"I said it does not mean the Dutch population is opposed to the EU, but that there are doubts about the tempo of change within the EU and the financial position of the Netherlands," he said.
Meanwhile, the two largest factions in the European Parliament are divided on the issue whether the ratification process over the constitution should continue.
The Christian Democrat faction said in a debate on Wednesday the ratification process should be temporarily frozen, urging for a period of reflection.
The Socialists called for other EU member states to give their opinion — either by a parliament vote or referendum — over the constitution.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is also urging for a period of reflection, but still wants EU states to give a judgement on the constitution.
Urging for democracy and debate, Barroso said "we must listen more to the public and find a solution based on that".
EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday next week to discuss the EU 2007-2013 budget and to decide whether to continue or temporarily freeze the ratification process.
Britain has already put on hold its referendum, but Ireland, Denmark and Poland are prepared to proceed despite the recent Dutch and French no votes.
Should the ratification process be put on hold, the question that will emerge is when the process can start again. It is also uncertain whether a new treaty will be drawn up or whether the current constitution can or should be re-negotiated if the ratification process continues.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news