EC delays election legal battle with Holland
26 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The European Commission has temporarily delayed taking legal action against the Netherlands for publishing European election results before voting had been completed across the 25-nation bloc in June.
26 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — The European Commission has temporarily delayed taking legal action against the Netherlands for publishing European election results before voting had been completed across the 25-nation bloc in June.
Most European Union member states voted on 13 June, but Dutch voters headed to the polls. Ignoring a warning from the EC, the Dutch government published preliminary results the same night.
The EC launched legal action against the Dutch government, claiming that early publication of results could influence the elections in other nations, Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool reported Monday.
The EC claims the Dutch move was illegal, asserting that it breached the European Elections Act, which obliges member states to keep election results under embargo until voting is completed across the EU.
The Dutch claim that a 2002 amendment allows local councils to release their results without delay. But this has also been criticised because these results were then tallied, giving an indication of the final, nation-wide results.
But the Netherlands asserts further that it did not breach regulations because the national electorate council did not release official end results until 15 June.
The Netherlands currently holds the rotating EU Presidency and to avoid a head-to-head confrontation with the union's president, the EC has decided to postpone making a decision on a possible court case until December at the earliest, newspaper EUobserver reported.
A commission spokesman said the EC wanted to wait until a special meeting of national electoral experts is held in November, at which point the lack of clarity around the Elections Act will be discussed.
But another source said the fact that the Dutch held the EU presidency at present also played an important role in the decision to postpone the court case. The Dutch will hand over the Presidency to Luxembourg in January 2005.
Amid record voter apathy and surprising support for anti-EU parties, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) remained the largest grouping in the European Parliament, followed by the Party of European Socialists (PES).
As at 26 July, the EPP — which includes the Dutch Christian Democrat CDA — holds 268 seats in the 732-seat Parliament following the June election, while the PES — which includes the Labour PvdA — has 200 MEPs.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news