Thursday

22nd Feb 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme

An MEP voluntary pension scheme is running a €326 million actuarial deficit. The Luxembourg-based fund, set to manage to scheme, is said to have invested the money in controversial sectors like the arms industry.

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

News in Brief

  1. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  2. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  3. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  4. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  5. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  6. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents
  7. Hahn: EU to back entry talks with Albania and Macedonia
  8. UEFA signs deal to promote 'European values' at EURO 2020

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  2. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  3. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  4. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  5. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  6. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  7. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  8. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner