Monday

21st Jan 2019

Dutch open to new-style EU constitution, poll shows

  • If the constitution remains unchanged, a clear majority of the Dutch would still vote "no" (Photo: EUobserver)

Dutch voters are increasingly open to the idea of a revised version of the EU constitution, but would still reject the current text of the charter, according to a fresh poll.

A survey conducted by polling firm TNS NIPO suggests that the Dutch people's overwhelming rejection of the EU constitution in a 2005 referendum does not mean they are against the general idea of a European constitution.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The poll, released by Dutch RTL television on Wednesday (17 January), shows that 47 percent of the Dutch are "positive" about the idea of "a European constitution" - representing a surge of optimism compared to the eve of the June 2005 referendum, when this figure stood at 30 percent.

A minority of 18 percent today feels "negative" about the idea of "a constitution" whereas 33 percent are "neutral" and 8 percent do not know, according to the survey.

The Dutch poll comes just as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is pushing the revival of the constitutional process, planning to present a roadmap towards a new treaty at the end of the German EU presidency in June.

When asked by pollsters about Ms Merkel's efforts to "revive a [new] European treaty," almost half of the Dutch (47 percent) said they are "positive" about the German initiative, while 17 percent said they are "negative" and 36 percent "neutral."

But the survey is not all good news for Berlin, which wants to stick closely to the current text of the constitution in the upcoming re-negotiations on the charter, with German politicians highlighting that it has already been ratified by 18 member states.

If the document remains unchanged, a clear majority of 60 percent of the Dutch would still vote "no" if a new referendum were held, roughly the same figure as in 2005 (61.5%).

Pressure on The Hague

The poll results put pressure on the Dutch government to secure changes to the document that would tackle Dutch people's concerns about the EU - primarily focusing on European integration being too quick and the loss of Dutch sovereignty.

Outgoing Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot said in November that a new EU treaty should include substantial safeguards against further Brussels powers and uncontrolled enlargement.

The Netherlands is currently engaged in talks on the formation of a new centre-left government involving the Christian Democrats, Labour and the protestant Christian Union, to be led by current prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende.

The three parties are also discussing a future government's stance towards a new EU treaty, as well as the possibility to hold a new referendum once a new text is agreed at EU level.

A majority of 64 percent of the Dutch believe the EU constitution should play a role in the cabinet formation, according to Wednesday's poll, with Dutch media reporting that a new Balkenende cabinet could take office in March.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

Lead MEP on Morocco resigns as her report passes

MEPs ultimately adopted a controversial report on an EU trade deal with Morocco - despite the sudden resignation by French liberal Patricia Lalonde as the file's rapporteur only moments beforehand. Her departure follows an EUobserver investigation into lobbying by Morocco.

Razor-edge victory for more lobbying transparency at EP

New rules to force MEPs chairing committees or drafting reports to publish meetings with registered lobbyists took a step closer to reality. The measure was narrowly backed 11 to 10 at the constitutional affairs committee but still needs plenary approval.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?
  2. Seven member states miss climate plan deadline
  3. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  4. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  5. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  6. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  7. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  8. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us