22nd Mar 2018

Dutch say strong No to EU Constitution

(Updated at 23.55 CET) The Netherlands has rejected the EU constitution, with 61.6 percent of the Dutch voting against the text and 38.4 in favour, official results show.

Reacting to the result, Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende said his government "respected this outcome completely" although he was "very disappointed" with the result.

\"A No means No\"

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"A No is a No and that means a No to the Constitutional Treaty", said the prime minister.

But he urged other countries to continue their ratification process amid speculation that countries such as the UK, Denmark and Ireland may call off their proposed referendums.

"We ought to know how each country thinks about the constitutional treaty", he said.

He went on to say that voters had mainly been concerned about a "loss of sovereignty", "Dutch identity" and the high Dutch financial contributions to the EU.

"We will have to explain to the other member states what the Dutch people's motives were", said Mr Balkenende.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the leaders of the European Commission and parliament and council said they "respect" the Dutch vote adding that EU leaders would use the occasion of their next meeting on 16-17 June to engage in a "collective analysis" of the situation.

High turnout

Turnout lay at 62.8 percent, far above the 30 percent threshold necessary for the referendum to be valid.

Polls closed today at 21.00.

The percentage of Dutch "No" votes lies even higher than polls had predicted yesterday (around 60 percent).

The Dutch referendum is non-binding, meaning that the Dutch parliament has the final say on ratification of the EU Charter.

But the parliament, which initiated the referendum, has repeatedly said it would adopt the result of the poll if turnout were higher than 30 percent.

The Dutch want less \"Brussels\"

Two pollsters yesterday (31 May) already released analyses of the reasons of the Dutch "No".

They both found that the rejection of the EU constitution was primarily based on general uneasiness with the EU.

A TNS/NIPO survey for RTL television found that "the Dutch are predominantly afraid that the Netherlands will lose its identity in Europe and that the Netherlands will not maintain its influence in the European Union."

The polling company went on to state that the Dutch think that "European unification goes too quickly".

TNS/NIPO noted that "remarkably", sideline issues like Turkish EU accession, the Euro, and discontent with the Dutch government - finally did not constitute the main arguments for voters turning their backs on the Constitution.

Election researcher Maurice de Hond found that 78 percent of the Dutch think that "Brussels should have less of a say on issues close to citizens."

Seventy-three percent of respondents said that the EU should be "much more democratic".

Strikingly, according to Mr de Hond's poll, less than half backed the idea of a common EU foreign policy.

Forty-five percent of respondents agreed that "there should be one approach to foreign policy in the EU, not seperate approaches of every single country."

Meanwhile, 30 percent of the Dutch still want the Dutch guilder back, according to Mr De Hond.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

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