News

    EU Constitution Battleground Moves to the Netherlands

    Roger Wilkison

    Election billboard calling on the Dutch electorate to vote against the European Union constitution in Amsterdam
    As Dutch leaders make an 11th hour plea for a "yes" vote on the EU Constitution in Wednesday's referendum, opinion surveys in The Netherlands are predicting that a public disillusioned with Europe will reject the charter by an even larger margin than the stunning "no" delivered by French voters on Sunday.

    Supporters of the European Union's draft constitution in the Netherlands concede that they are fighting a losing battle. For weeks, now, polls have shown that between 52- and 60-percent of the voters will cast a "no" vote. Foreign Minister Bernard Bot says the "no" vote in France was a big setback for proponents of the constitution in the Netherlands.

    "All the polls indicated that if the French would have said 'yes', the Dutch, by a narrow margin would also have said 'yes'," he said. "But you see now the immediate effect in the polls of the French negative outcome also in the Netherlands. The figures are going up again for the 'no' camp. At the moment, it looks as if it is going to be a 'no' vote."

    Like other EU leaders, Mr. Bot says that, even if Dutch voters turn down the constitution, other EU member states should continue the ratification process. But diplomats in Brussels say privately that if two of the six founding members of the EU, France and the Netherlands, reject the treaty, there is no point in going ahead with ratification elsewhere.

    As was the case with French voters, the Dutch are angry at the political establishment in their country. Even though they have been among the strongest proponents of a united Europe, the Dutch are uneasy about the way Europe is going, and ordinary citizens seem bitter that they have not been given a say in such matters as the introduction of the euro, the EU single currency, which many blame for price rises.

    Many also think their country contributes too much to the EU budget. And many others are concerned about what they see as uncontrolled immigration, especially from Muslim lands, which some blame on the EU.

    Foreign Minister Bot admits that he and other political leaders have misread the concerns of voters about the effects of the EU on their daily lives.

    "People have the feeling that they are being ruled from Brussels, that they have no say in the matter of enlargement, the euro, etcetera, which has, in itself, been beneficial because that is the interesting paradox, that all of these elements have brought prosperity to Europe, and particularly to the Netherlands, but, obviously, the general feeling is that it has been a disadvantageous business, let's say, for them as private citizens. And that, I think, we should have been able to explain in a better and more consistent way," said Foreign Minister Bot.

    The referendum in the Netherlands is non-binding, but the government has vowed to respect it as long as the turnout is above 30 percent and the "no" side garners at least 55 percent of the vote. Unlike what occurred in France, the government says it will not resign if the constitution is defeated.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora