News

Dutch Overwhelmingly Reject EU Constitution

Socialist Party supporters celebrate defeat of EU constitution in Amsterdam

Voters in the Netherlands have overwhelmingly rejected the European Union's proposed constitution three days after their counterparts in France also turned down the charter. Exit polls showed 63 per cent of Dutch voters voted "no" and only 37 per cent were in favor of the document.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was quick to concede defeat. He says he is very disappointed at the result. "It's clear that we are not pleased with this, are not happy with this outcome. Dutch voters have given a clear signal. It is obvious that we will be respecting this outcome completely," he said.

Mr. Balkenende says that despite the defeat of the constitution in both his country and in France, the ratification process should go on. Nine countries have already approved the constitution. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, also insisted that every one of the EU's 25 members should have its say about the merits of the charter. Mr. Juncker says that he will make proposals on how the bloc can move forward after the two devastating defeats at a European summit in Brussels in two weeks' time.

To go into effect, the EU constitution, which was designed as a blueprint for further European integration, must be approved by every member state

Meanwhile, opponents of the constitution in the Netherlands were celebrating their victory. Geert Wilders, a right-wing member of parliament who campaigned against the treaty, calls the result a thrashing of the political elite by ordinary people. "The large majority of the Dutch people have rejected this, and I'm very proud of them for having done that. If you realize that in the second chamber (the lower house of parliament) two thirds of the parliamentarians were in favor of the constitution, but two out of three people in the country are against the constitution, I'm very happy that the Dutch voters have stuck two fingers up to the elite in Brussels and The Hague," he said.

Why did the Dutch, traditionally seen as being among the most pro-European of the continent's peoples, turn down the constitution in such an emphatic way?

Joris Van Poppel, the Europe editor of the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, says ordinary citizens felt left out of the decision-making process regarding the future of Europe and their own country. "The reason why people opposed it is that they feel marginalized. The Dutch used to like the European Union when there were only six members. Now there are 25, and they feel they don't have any power any more. And, second of all, they haven't been asked about any of the major changes in the European Union. They are fed up with the euro (single currency). They're fed up about enlargement. And they've never been asked, so that's really why they opposed the treaty now," he said.

The rejection of the charter by the Dutch and the French this week not only casts doubt about the EU's plans to expand into Turkey, the Balkans and Ukraine but also raises questions about its appetite for economic reform in the face of mounting global competition. The euro fell to its lowest level in eight months against the US dollar after the result of the Dutch referendum was announced.

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