The Netherlands’ European Affairs Minister Atzo Nikolai has been standing up for national identity.
He has organised a promotional tour on the EU Constitution by tram in The Hague. He wants to reassure people who are afraid that liberal laws and Dutch sovereignty could be under threat. “It’s one of the most asked questions, indeed: Our identity, specific things like the soft drugs, like euthanasia, abortion and other issues. I can explain to everybody. Don’t worry, on the contrary. This constitution is very clear that these kind of things are national issues.” In their first-ever referendum, the Dutch will vote on the charter on June 1, three days after France holds its referendum. Tram-rider Willem Bof is against the EU constitution: “It is not democratic that’s one point. And another point is that included in this constitution is all kind of political directions, economic policy, military policy etc… all kind of things which don’t belong in a constitution.” Like France, The Netherlands is one of the founding members of the EU but has seen traditionally strong support for the expanding Union drop off in recent years. One of the latest public opinion surveys showed about 40 percent of voters would reject the constitution while 38 percent would approve it.