Friday

6th May 2016

Dutch set to hold Constitution referendum this December

  • The Netherlands - set to hold a referendum during its EU presidency (Photo: EUobserver)

The Netherlands is likely to be among the first EU member states to hold a referendum on the Constitution - and is set to do so before the end of this year, during its own EU presidency.

A senior source in the Dutch Foreign Ministry told the EUobserver that the EU poll is likely to be held in December 2004 - the last month of the Dutch EU presidency which kicks off on 1 July.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

One of the initiators of the Dutch EU referendum, the Green member of the Dutch parliament Farah Karimi, told De Volkskrant on Tuesday (22 June) that "if everything works out well", the referendum could even take place as early as November.

However, other sources point out that the actual moment will depend on the pace of work by EU and Dutch translators and legal experts, which first have to work on the precise text of the Constitution.

But once the final text is ready, the Foreign Ministry source said it would be sent without delay to the Dutch parliament, which will organise the referendum about 50 days after the text is signed.

Other countries

By contrast, the British government signalled on Monday (21 June) according to Reuters that it may delay its referendum until after its Presidency, which will last from July to December 2005.

This would enable Downing Street to use its Presidency to "sell" Europe to the public first before holding the poll in 2006.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC over the weekend: "There's absolutely no need to have [the referendum] straight away."

Benelux referendum?

The Belgian and Spanish governments have both signalled that they would favour a quick referendum like the Dutch.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt recently said he would like the Belgian referendum to take place on the same day as the Dutch poll - possibly in the form of a "Benelux referendum" involving Luxembourg as well.

However, the Belgian parliament still has to decide whether or not to hold the referendum, and major French-speaking parties are still undecided.

France could hold a referendum on the Constitution next spring, according to former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Dutch parties support Constitution

The Dutch referendum, the first nation-wide poll in the history of the country, will be non-binding.

All major centre-right and centre-left parties this week declared their support for the EU Constitution, which was adopted by EU leaders at a Brussels Summit last Friday (18 June).

But given the increasingly eurosceptic tone of the public debate in the Netherlands, the outcome of the Dutch referendum is uncertain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppetiersBrexit Could Increase Support for Independence in Pro-EU Scotland
  2. European Music CouncilRegister Now for the 6th European Forum on Music in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016
  3. Belgrade Security ForumJoin Our Team for the 6th Belgrade Security Forum. Apply Now! Deadline May 20
  4. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsCompanies Make Progress on Number of Women in Leadership Roles
  5. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  6. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  7. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  8. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  9. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  10. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  11. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs