News

Dutch Expected to Vote 'No' on European Charter

The Netherlands is voting in a referendum on the European Union's draft constitution, and opinion polls say Dutch voters, like the French last Sunday, will reject the treaty.  VOA Europe correspondent Roger Wilkison reports from Brussels that a second "no" to the charter could deliver a fatal blow to the EU's blueprint for further integration.  

The Netherlands has traditionally been a major champion of European integration.  But Dutch voters have been unhappy with the direction the EU has been taking in recent years.  Many think it has expanded too far and too fast.  Most believe the introduction of the euro single currency has made their cost of living higher.  Some also resent the distant pan-European bureaucracy in Brussels.  But, above all, they appear to be furious that they were never consulted by the EU or their own government about the way the European project has changed their lives in recent years.

Danielle Jongh, who has actively campaigned for a "no" vote, explains why she is voting against the constitution.

"People feel that they have no real influence on what's happening, what's happening with the future of the European Union, and what's happening with our own country," she said.

One theme underlying Dutch opposition to the treaty is that while the Netherlands underwent painful belt-tightening in order to conform to EU budget rules, France and Germany have gotten away with breaking those rules for four straight years.  And, as Lousewies van der Laan, a pro-constitution member of parliament points out, her fellow citizens are unhappy with the Netherlands being the biggest per capita contributor to the EU budget, despite the fact that it is not the union's richest country.

"We pay the most per capita to the European Union's budget, and a lot of people think the money isn't being very well spent and then add to that we haven't really had a debate on Europe for the past 40 years, that people didn't feel included in very important decisions like the enlargement with the countries from eastern Europe, like the introduction of the euro,” she adds.  “A lot of people are going to use today to complain about the past rather than take an important step to improve the future."

All the mainstream political parties, news media, business organizations and trade unions are for the constitution.  Bert Bakker, another member of parliament, says that only a "yes" vote will keep the Netherlands prosperous and in the European mainstream.

"Holland is the country that profits most from European integration when it comes to economic profit.  Moreover, of course, there are so many problems that can only be solved in an international context,” he noted.  “So, for me, the only conclusion can be 'yes.'"

But the opinion surveys show that up to 60 percent of the Dutch will vote against the treaty.  The polls say the Dutch are growing fearful of losing their own identity within an ever-expanding union and as a result of their own large and rapid influx of immigrants. 

Bart Staes is one voter who is suspicious that, in a more centralized Europe, Dutch interests may not be well served.

"I don't feel it's good for the Netherlands.  It detracts from its independence in the European community,” he said.  “I think it's only adding more bureaucracy."

After the French "no" last Sunday, EU leaders said ratification should continue, noting that nine nations representing nearly half of the EU's citizens had already approved the charter.  But a Dutch "no" would make that position less tenable, and the leaders will have to come up with new answers at a summit two weeks from now.

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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs