Tuesday

18th Dec 2018

Dutch EU referendum less likely after key report

The likelihood of the Netherlands holding a referendum on the EU's Reform Treaty decreased Thursday (13 September) after the Dutch government was told by its highest advisory body that a poll is not necessary.

A key report by the Council of State, the Dutch government's highest advisory body, says there is no legal need for a referendum since the new treaty does not include "constitutional" elements, according to Dutch media.

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 council's opinion is likely to be followed by the Dutch cabinet, which is expected to discuss the issue in a meeting on Friday (14 September).

The Council of State's advice is however not binding for the Dutch parliament, which could still decide to hold an own-initiative poll.

It was the Dutch parliament which - against the wishes of prime minister Balkenende - organised the 2005 referendum on the EU constitutional treaty, which ended in a resounding "no" vote.

In the parliament's lower house, there could be a majority for a second treaty referendum, with prominent members of the country's second largest political faction, the Labour party, recently coming out in favour of the idea.

But a referendum bill could eventually be blocked in the senate, which is more conservative in its composition. Christian Democrat and Liberal senators are seen to be against having a referendum.

The issue is meanwhile set to cause tension in the Netherland's centrist coalition government, which includes prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats – who oppose a new EU referendum – and Labour, which is under increasing pressure to support a treaty poll.

This week's Council of State opinion can be seen as a boost to Mr Balkenende, who has been involved in some clever political manoeuvring to avoid a second EU referendum.

The 2005 EU constitution referendum came after the Council stated that the document was "to a certain extent" comparable to a change in the Dutch national constitution.

Consequently, in the re-negotiations on the failed EU constitution, Mr Balkenende pressed for the new treaty to be stripped of quasi-constitutional elements, such as the name "constitution" and references to the EU flag and anthem.

Czechs question ratification tempo

Meanwhile, the Czech government has questioned the EU's target date for the ratification of the new treaty - set for 2009, ahead of the European Parliament elections due in June.

"We do not want to improvise during our presidency," said Alexander Vondra, the Czech secretary for EU affairs, referring to the country's six-month term at the EU's helm in the first half of 2009, the CTK agency reported.

Mr Vondra suggested that putting the treaty in force within a 12-month period - rather than within the 18-24 months that is normally the case - would be a "record tempo" and hard to achieve.

The current Portuguese EU presidency is hoping to have the document wrapped up by this December so ratification can start quickly next year.

Prague had expressed concerns about the ambitious timetable before, but other EU member states argue the new institutional rules should be introduced just ahead of the EU assembly's 2009 elections.

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.

Leading MEP defends expenses secrecy

The man tasked with making the EP more transparent has said there are more important issues than making MEP monthly expenses public.

Exclusive

EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Internal legal European parliament documents circulated Tuesday, and seen by EUobserver, rule it illegal to force MEPs to meet only registered lobbyists. The opinion will likely render a larger effort to create a mandatory register for lobbyists null and void.

News in Brief

  1. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  2. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote
  3. EU court confirms suspension of Polish judges law
  4. France to tax Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon
  5. EU negotiators agree CO2 targets for cars
  6. May: Brexit vote will be week of 14 January
  7. Rome finds extra budget funds to fit EU demands
  8. Polish climate talks end in agreement on rulebook

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

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. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  2. Orban protests target state media in new front
  3. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  4. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  5. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  6. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  7. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice
  8. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us