Dutch tipped to hold early EU Constitution poll

23rd June 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 June 2004 , AMSTERDAM — As the Netherlands prepares to take over the EU presidency from Ireland on 1 July, it appears the Dutch may be one of the first EU populations to vote in a referendum on the new EU Constitution.

23 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — As the Netherlands prepares to take over the EU presidency from Ireland on 1 July, it appears the Dutch may be one of the first EU populations to vote in a referendum on the new EU Constitution.

The Netherlands is expected to hold a referendum on last week's agreed Constitution before the end of this year just before the end of its own EU presidency from July to December this year, news service EUobserver reported.

The EUobserver's report quotes a senior source in the Dutch Foreign Ministry indicating that the EU poll will probably be held in December 2004.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said the Constitution agreement on 18 June was significant and historic. "More than ever, Europe now needs a basic set of rules and principles," he said.

And during a debate in the Lower House of Parliament, De Tweede Kamer, a majority of Dutch MPs indicated they supported the EU Constitution on Wednesday.

The Christian Democrat CDA,  Liberal VVD, Democrat D66 and opposition party Labour PvdA said they would advise the public to vote in favour of the Constitution, while the green-left GroenLinks said it needed more time to consider its position.

The other parties will probably advise against the Constitution, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

And despite the support of the major parties for the Constitution, the Netherlands' referendum — which is non-binding — remains uncertain in light of the public's recent eurosceptism.

During its EU presidency, the Netherlands hopes to implement plans to make Europe the world's most competitive economy. These plans were agreed to at the EU summit in Lisbon, Radio Netherlands reported.

The Dutch Cabinet also wants the EU to get tougher against terrorism and will try to convince the EU to agree to membership negotiations with Turkey by December 2004.

Meanwhile, the British government reportedly indicated on Monday that it might hold its referendum on the Constitution after its EU Presidency in the second half of 2005, delaying the poll until 2006.

The Spanish government might hold a quick referendum like the Dutch and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has suggested that the three Benelux countries — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — stage a referendum on the same day.

France might hold its referendum on the Constitution in the spring of 2005.

The constitution sets out the powers of EU national governments and the union's various institutions. It includes a charter of fundamental rights and outlines how the union will conduct internal and foreign affairs.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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