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June 01, 2005

The Dutch Referendum: The World Responds, Part II

More commentary, from around the world.  First up, all eyes on Tony Blair. From the Scotsman:

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, described the twin No results as a "serious problem" for the constitution.

But he seemed to join calls for Britain’s referendum to continue, and urged no country to call the process off. "We must continue our work," he said - adding he would ask the coming EU summit in a fortnight’s time for "clarification" on the way ahead...

Denis MacShane, the former minister for Europe, who has the freedom to voice opinions which ministers above him are constrained from airing, said the treaty was now "dead" and the British referendum could not now go ahead.

"What do you have a referendum on?" he told BBC2’s Newsnight. "There is nothing to vote on."

However, the cries from Europe were last night firmly for countries to stay the course. Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister, said: "This is not the end of the process for the constitution and not at all the end of European integration."...

The Liberal Democrats last night rushed to Tony Blair’s aid by saying that the Dutch No has ruled out any chance of a similar vote being held in Britain.

Menzies Campbell, the deputy leader, declared: "There is now no prospect of a referendum in the United Kingdom."...

The British Yes campaign, by contrast, has conceded defeat.

From swissinfo:

Latvia's parliament is expected to approve the treaty with a big majority on Thursday, meaning 10 members representing almost half the EU's 454 million citizens will have approved it...

Poland said on Wednesday it would decide how and when to ratify the constitution after the EU summit. It had planned a referendum in October, but the opposition has demanded a delay. 

The Czech Republic said on Wednesday it would seek an extension of the November 2006 deadline for ratification to give countries that vote "No" more time to reconsider.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker voiced concerns on Wednesday about the July 10 referendum on the treaty in his broadly pro-Europe state after the Dutch "No."

From the New York Times:

Dutch diplomats working in Brussels, who had not been granted permission to speak publicly on the subject, said that during the drafting of the constitution, the Dutch delegates felt frustrated because most of their positions were ignored.

According to friends of Mr. Balkenende, who is an observant Christian, he was also deeply disappointed that, in the final text, the drafters did not want Europe to declare its Judeo-Christian roots.

Dutch voters, who knew little about the drafting process, had different objections. Among their main complaints, reflected in opinion polls, is that they feel the Netherlands is pushed around by the big nations and that the decision-making process in Brussels lacks transparency and democracy.

The Dutch, including their government, have also loudly criticized France and Germany for their recent flouting of budget rules, while the Netherlands and other countries have been pressed to make painful cutbacks to keep their budget deficits within prescribed limits.

But most noted by analysts after the results became known was the enormous gap between politicians and common citizens.

From China Daily:

The charter was designed to provide such trappings of statehood as a flag, a president and an anthem for what has largely been an economic bloc while creating a more integrated political entity of 450 million people with a bigger economy than America's.

But the idea has proved increasingly polarizing, with opponents worrying about loss of national control and identity to a stronger, unaccountable EU bureaucracy at the heart of a superstate. There also is anxiety about mostly Muslim Turkey possibly becoming an EU member.

That last reason may deserve more attention.  Although it is not getting much play right now, this warning from the aforementioned swissinfo article could loom large as things proceed:

The votes could cast doubt on the EU's plans to expand further. Romania and Bulgaria are likely to join in 2007 as their accession treaties have already been signed but membership bids by Turkey, Ukraine and Balkan hopefuls might be disrupted.

"Enlargement is going to be one of the big casualties of this decision," said Mendeltje van Keulen, analyst at the Clingendael Institute near The Hague.

"Romania and Bulgaria have probably just got in time ... but for Croatia or Turkey it's a different story."

June 1, 2005 in Europe | Permalink


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» The European referendum defeats: Après nous, le déluge from New Economist
Dutch and French voters have soundly defeated the European Union's proposed new constitution, prompting huge press coverage and much from the official commentariat. Google News links to over 8,000 press stories. Macroblog provides useful links to the p... [Read More]

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