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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora