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Battle to convince Dutch to back or ditch EU Constitution in full swing

brussels bureau

Battle to convince Dutch to back or ditch EU Constitution in full swing


According to public opinion polls in the Netherlands the ‘No’ camp might win the nation’s June 1 referendum on the new European Constitution. The ‘Yes’ partisans are strongly criticising the opponents of the charter and are convinced that the Dutch and the French referendums are tightly linked.

In Amsterdam, Green MEP Katelijne Buitenweg gave EuroNews this comment: “The ‘No’ itself is not compatible. I’m sure that if you put Le Pen and de Villiers and also the left who are against (the Constitution) and put them in one room and ask them to come up with an alternative they will be completely incapable of doing it. So they are quite incompatible. I think the ‘Yes’ is compatible but the ‘No’ is not.” Willem Bos is a left independent leading the ‘No’ campaign: “People feel that they have to have influence (on) what is happening in Europe. They don’t want a Europe (that) is very far away deciding things which influence their lives.” The three-way ruling coalition led by centre-right Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is strongly pro-constitution. So is the main opposition party, PvdA Labour. Yet the Netherlands, like France one of the founding members of the EU, has seen traditionally strong support for the Union wane in recent years. Sociologist at Amsterdam University Paul Kapteyn talks about one of the biggest fears:“People have the idea that the constitution will make it easier for immigrants to come to The Netherlands, to Europe. That’s not the case but the idea is there; that’s why they’re ready to say ‘no’.” The Netherlands’ referendum result will not be legally binding but people hope that saying ‘no’ will give their country room to negotiate opt-outs from certain European policy areas.
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