Today the three leaders of the fractions that are negotiating the new Dutch cabinet sent their draft government accord to their respective fractions for deliberation and approval. If things go well, in another two weeks we will have a brand new government comprised of Christian Democrats (CDA), Labour (PvdA) and Christian Union (CU).
And things are off to a flying start: The government will not organize a referendum (NL) on any new EU constitution text. Instead it will defer the decision to the Council of State (Raad van State). The coalition forming the new government hopes the Council of State will decide a new referendum is unnecessary and approval of (or, in laymens terms: rubberstamping by) both chambers of parliament is sufficient. The new coalition fears a new referendum will result in a new 'No'.
This development is all the more surprising since Andre Rouvoet (CU) and Wouter Bos (PvdA) have voiced strong opinions against the EU constitutional treaty.
It seems to me, that if such is the genuine fear, the new coalition should really ask itself if that new EU constitution should even be to begin with. I had hoped the Dutch government, in light of what happened at the last referendum, would support the UK and especially the Czech republic in their resistance against any new constituion treaty proposal. But alas. Yet again, out political establishment cannot be caught displaying even an ounce of true courage.
[UPDATE001] Then again, maybe I spoke a little too soon, jumped the gun a little too quick. From EU Observer (thanks to Fjordman):
The Netherlands is set to postpone a decision on whether to hold a second referendum on the European constitution until a new version of the text is agreed at EU level.So the whole constitution thingy is not a done deal yet, is it? According to EU Observer this move will extend the uncertainty around the status of the constitution (dead or alive) with at least another 18 months or so. Also, things apparently did change after the first Referendum. Because whereas the PvdA were very much in favor of the EU constitutional treaty then, it now is much more reserved.
The three Dutch political parties that are in the final stages of forming a new centre-left government on Monday (5 February) broadly endorsed a coalition agreement which leaves the tricky decision of whether to hold a new EU constitution referendum to the country's highest constitutional advisory body, the Council of State.
According to sources in The Hague, the Council of State will only bring its advice on how to ratify a new EU treaty - by referendum or by parliament - once EU governments have agreed on changes to the current text of the EU constitution which was rejected by the Netherlands and France in 2005.
The move means that until there is an EU deal on a new text - planned by member states for 2008 - it will be unclear whether the charter will be subject to a second referendum in the Netherlands, injecting a strong element of uncertainty to the constitutional revival process.
The second-largest prospective coalition party, Labour, is still keeping its options open and could help the pro-referendum camp to a majority.All of this much to the dismay of 'El Presidente' Barroso:
Labour parliamentarian Frans Timmermans told EUobserver that if the agreed compromise "strongly looks like" the constitution, his party would back a new referendum. "The nature of the treaty determines the nature of its treatment," he said.
"Referendums make the process of approval of European treaties much more complicated and less predictable," he said, asking "every member state" considering a referendum to "think twice," according to Het Financieele Dagblad.But that is the effing point, isn't it? Both the EC and the euro were foisted upon us without so much as a 'You agree, don'tcha?'. Apparatchicks like El Presidente drone on and on about how the EU is the pinnacle of democracy. But as soon as any significant decision involving the fate and, yes, the continuation of the fatherlands of millions of European citizens need to be taken, consulting the very people whos country they are changing and taking away are dismissed as nuisance interference. That is not democracy, that is autocracy.
Mr Barroso in his previous job as as Portuguese prime minister in 2004 backed a referendum on the EU constitution in his own country - but since then his thinking has changed, he indicated.
"I was in favour of a referendum as a prime minister, but it does make our lives with 27 member states in the EU more difficult. If a referendum had been held on the creation of the European Community or the introduction of the euro, do you think these would have passed?"
Remember: talk is cheap. Oh, and: by the fruits of their labor shall ye know them. If the Barroso line is the wider EU line with regard to priority that should be given to the will of the people (as in none, no priority whatsoever), then we can finally dispense with the make-belief and recognize the anti-democratic moloch that the EU actually is, and always has been.
Anyway, read the whole thing. It's always a pleasure to see El Presidente squirm.