Monday

25th Sep 2017

Luxembourg continues with referendum plans

Luxembourg is set to press ahead with its referendum on the EU constitution, despite EU leaders last week giving themselves the option of putting the document on ice for as long as they want.

Reuters has reported that parliamentary leaders in the Grand Duchy on Monday (20 June) decided to stick by plans to hold a popular poll on the EU charter on 10 July.

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  • The Chamber of Deputies of the Luxembourg Parliament made up of 60 members (Photo: Luxembourg EU Presidency)

"All the groups, all the parties represented in parliament, are unanimous in the opinion to continue a referendum to ask the Luxembourgers to vote on July 10 about the treaty", Henri Grethen, floor leader of the Democratic Party told the news agency.

The referendum will be of large symbolic importance for the fate of the constitution - a no vote coming hot on the heels of the French and the Dutch referendums would make a mockery of claims by EU leaders that the document can still be resurrected.

A yes, on the other hand, would embolden the belief that ratification should continue and could perhaps stem the knock-on effect from the French and Dutch referendums which has led to the No camps gaining ground in Denmark and Ireland, and other countries planning to have a referendum.

The vote is also a political test for prime minister Juncker, who earlier this month said he would resign if Luxembourgers rejected the constitution.

He is one of the most pro-European leaders in the bloc and is a veteran of EU meetings having been prime minister since 1995 and before that as finance minister having been one of the principle movers behind the 1992 Maastricht treaty, which paved the way to the euro.

Strong-willed

A Luxembourg official last week predicted that the parliament would decide that the country should go ahead with the vote next month.

Speaking to EUobserver, he said Luxembourgers "are very strong-willed. They do not like to be told by others whether they can or can't vote and when".

But the last poll conducted before the suspension of polls, one month before the referendum, showed that 45 percent of the around 200,000-strong electorate opposed the treaty, with 55 percent in favour.

Opposition had risen from 41 percent the month before and is considered high for the normally pro-European tiny state.

Although Luxembourg has decided to go ahead, others took advantage of a decision by EU leaders last week to have a 'period of reflection' to put off their referendums.

Denmark, Ireland and Portugal have already abandoned their planned polls, all set to have taken place in the autumn of this year, while the UK had shelved its poll well before the summit.

Poland also looks like it is wavering on its referendum. Prime minister Marek Belka told Polish PiN radio that ratification of the document would be in the country's interest but added "I understand that today the best way to ratify would be to quickly pass it through parliament. It will be tough to get people out to vote knowing that most countries are delaying their referendums".

Ten countries have already ratified the document - but Spain is the only one to have done it by referendum.

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