Senate backs EU constitution referendum
25 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Senate backed a proposal on Tuesday to hold a referendum over the new European Union Constitution and the plebiscite is now expected to be held in May or June.
25 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Senate backed a proposal on Tuesday to hold a referendum over the new European Union Constitution and the plebiscite is now expected to be held in May or June.
It will be the first time in Dutch parliamentary history that the public will be allowed to issue non-binding advice to the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, news agency ANP reported.
The Liberal VVD eventually backed the referendum proposal on Tuesday, creating a majority in favour in the Senate. Only the Christian Democrat CDA and the smaller Christian parties, ChristenUnie and SGP, voted against the proposal. But the three parties only have a combined 27 votes in the 75-seat Senate.
The VVD has long been an opponent of referendums and party senators remained doubtful about the latest proposal right to the end. But like their colleagues in the Lower House, the Liberal senators eventually made an exception to allow a plebiscite for the EU constitution.
VVD spokesman Jan van Heukelom told news agency Novum that when the Dutch Constitution is amended, voters must also have their say. He said due to the fact that the EU constitution was such an important treaty; the public should also be allowed to express its stance.
But the referendum is not binding and the parliament may ignore the advice from the public, a key element to the VVD decision to back the proposed poll. Had it been a binding referendum, the VVD was poised to vote against the proposal.
The EU constitution will create a full-time president of the European Council and an EU foreign minister and sets up an EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It preserves member states' vetoes and gives national parliaments more opportunity to object to EU laws without the power to overturn them
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2005]
Subject: Dutch news