18 May 2005
BRUSSELS – Opponents of the EU constitution plan to protest its adoption in Belgium on Thursday in Brussels, according to the Belga news agency.
They claim that while the EU constitution has sparked a heated and widespread debate in France, which will hold a much anticipated referendum on whether to adopt the pivotal draft document on 29 May, in Belgium little public debate has been fostered.
The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Belgium’s bicameral Parliament, is due to approve the EU constitution on Thursday.
It has already been approved by the Senate, or upper house.
“Whereas in France a vast public debate has taken hold ahead of the 29 May referendum, in Belgium the Chamber of Deputies is preparing to adopt on 19 May the project of a European constitution,” said a communiqué signed by supporters of the country’s ‘No’ camp, including leading figures from the worlds of politics, trade unions, academia and associations.
“The constitution is dangerous to the social and democratic rights of the European peoples,” they claimed.
To protest the lack of public debate on the draft EU constitution in Belgium, they also called upon all supporters of the ‘No’ camp to demonstrate at Brussels downtown Mont des Arts – a pedestrian square surrounded by museums and other official buildings set along an incline above the central Grand Place – at 6 pm on Thursday.
Among those who plan to be present are Georges Debunne, former director of the General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGTB), Socialist senator Pierre Galand, Green deputy Zoé Genot, of the Ecolo party, and Jean-Maurice Dehousse, a former Belgian Socialist member of the European Parliament, as well as represantitives of the anti-globalisation group Attac.
The EU constitution is due to be approved on Thursday afternoon by the 150-member Chamber of Deputies.
It was approved by the Senate in late April, with 54 votes in favour, nine votes against and one abstention.
The EU constitution must then still be approved by Belgium’s regional parliaments.
Subject: Belgian News