Thursday

9th Apr 2020

France backs European constitution referendum

The French minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique de Villepin has backed the idea of a Europe-wide referendum on a future European Constitution.

Speaking on Saturday in the Institute of Political Studies in Paris at a European Student Convention meeting, Mr Villepin said it was important to have a foundational act that would see all the peoples of Europe reunite on the same day backing simultaneous referenda in the EU on the future Constitution as an excellent idea.

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De Villepin also defended the joint Franco-German proposal for a dual EU presidency. It would create a more stable system than the current with presidencies rotating among member states every six months, he said according to AFP. "Can so much authority be vested in one sole person?"... "a sole presidency would work against Europe," he continued.

Fini backing European referenda

Italy is also moving closer to acceptance of the idea. The Italian Government representative in the Convention, Vice-Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini stated in his contribution to an Italian Youth Convention in Rome last week, that he favoured the idea of ratifying the future European Convention by holding a referendum.

Mr Fini said he was ready to combine such a referendum with European elections in June 2004.

Majority in Dutch parliament called for referendum

With a tight majority (72 to 70 votes) the Dutch Parliament on 5 November 2002 declared that it was in favour of a non-binding referendum on the Convention outcome.

The text of the adopted motion read: "The parliament […] declares its wish that the results of the Convention will preferably be subject to a European referendum, or if this will not be possible, that the ratification by the Netherlands of the specific constitutional changes will be subject to a [national] referendum."

The ambiguous nature of the text has raised some questions. At the moment the Dutch constitution forbids binding referenda.

What is possible - is to have an ad-hoc law, a law for the purpose of a binding referendum on one particular issue this however may be blocked by a new parliament after elections are held tomorrow, Wednesday.

Denmark, Ireland and Portugal likely to vote

In Denmark and Ireland a new EU Constitutional treaty is likely to be prompt referenda due to the national constitutions of the two countries.

The Portuguese Prime Minister Durão Barroso may also accept a referendum on the next European Treaty, however such a referendum will only take place if the Treaty were to introduce major changes affecting Portugal's sovereignty, Mr Barroso said in October.

Growing pressure in Germany

In Germany the pressure for adopting a next EU treaty by referendum is growing. Leader of the CSU Berlin Landesgruppe Michael Glos has threatened the government coalition, saying that the Christian Democrats would vote against ratification of a future Constitution if it is not submitted for referendum.

However, a proposal to change the German Constitution in order for the country to be able to hold referenda on a federal level was turned down in June 2002, since the necessary two-thirds majority was not obtained. The Christian Democratic Party and some from the Liberal party opposed this proposal, which was put forward by the Green party and the Social Democratic Party.

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