PM: 'no' vote bad for Dutch reputation

10th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — A 'no' vote against the EU constitution in the upcoming referendum would be bad for the international reputation of the Netherlands and its international business links, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.

10 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — A 'no' vote against the EU constitution in the upcoming referendum would be bad for the international reputation of the Netherlands and its international business links, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.

Although opinion polls indicate a no vote, the prime minister said he is confident the nation will approve of the constitution at the advisory plebiscite on 1 June. "I am optimistic," he told 'RTL News' on Tuesday.

Balkenende refused to comment further on what would happen if the opponents of the EU constitution win the referendum. He said speculation did not contribute to "a constructive debate".

The Christian Democrat CDA leader reinforced the arguments the Dutch Cabinet is using to justify a vote in favour of the constitution.

He said the constitution will make it easier to combat terrorism and implement a more effective economic policy. Balkenende claimed it will also lead to expanded democracy in Europe.

The greater awareness there is of the constitution, the greater the inclination there is for voters to back the constitution, Balkenende said.

Balkenende pointed out that 85 percent of the Parliament — made up of the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD, Democrat D66, Labour PvdA and green-left GroenLinks — is in favour of the constitution.

Nevertheless, the parties have indicated they will seriously take into consideration the result of the non-binding referendum when they come to vote on the proposal.

Undaunted, Balkenende expects the Lower House of Parliament (Tweede Kamer) will back the constitution. If that doesn't happen, "then we have a problem", he said.
Balkenende was stung into actively campaigning for a 'yes vote' after a poll indicated last month 58 percent of the population will reject the constitution.

The prime minister then took the opportunity of the visit of US President George W. Bush over the weekend to plug the pro-constitution campaign during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In a speech at a US military ceremony in Margraten in the south of the country on Sunday, Balkenende recalled the determination of European leaders to unite after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945.

"European co-operation has brought us 60 years of peace, progress and security," he was quoted saying by news agency AFP.

"The EU is about to take the next step: ratification of the European constitution. We believe in the words of the constitution, that 'Europe, reunited after bitter experiences, intends to continue along the path of civilisation, progress and prosperity'."

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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