Dutch PM urges publicdialogue in EU crisis

2nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government wants to withdraw the motion calling for the approval of the EU Constitution, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende wrote to Parliament on Thursday.

2 June 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government wants to withdraw the motion calling for the approval of the EU Constitution, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende wrote to Parliament on Thursday.

The Cabinet was responding to the mass rejection by the Dutch public of the constitution in a referendum on Wednesday.

The referendum was non-binding and parliament has the final say on whether the constitution is adopted. But the government and opposition parties that supported the constitution say they will respect the public's wishes.

While accepting the government can withdraw the motion, opposition Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos, who supported the charter, said parliament should be allowed to make its own judgement.

Acknowledging there was a lot of unhappiness about the fast pace of European integration, Balkenende said politicians had to begin a dialogue with the Dutch public about Europe.

He also expressed understanding for concerns about Dutch sovereignty and identity and the high contribution the Netherlands pays into the EU's coffers.

"This is a case that can be justly made in Brussels," he said.

Balkenende revealed he has already been in contact with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, as well as Luxembourg Prime Minister and EU head Jean-Claude Juncker, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Denmark's Andres Fogh Rasmussen.

These three countries have yet to ratify the EU constitution.

Balkenende's acknowledgment of the need to reconnect with the public seemed to be tempered by the Liberal VVD, a member of Balkenende's three-party centre-right coalition government.

VVD parliamentary party leader Jozias van Aartsen expressed doubts about the much-heard assumption there was a split between the political elite and the public.

He noted that parliament had accepted the people's judgement within hours of the polls closing on Wednesday and that it was MPs who had asked for the people's views in the form of a referendum in the first place.

The parliamentary leader of Balkenende's Christian Democrat CDA, Maxime Verhagen, was also looking on the bright side. He said the referendum was a success because it generated real discussion about Europe.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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