Despite the earlier grandstanding of the Dutch government in a parliamentary debate on the fate of the EU constitution, it seems now that apart from a few cosmetic changes the new treaty will be the same as the one the Dutch (and the French) rejected in 2005.
The cabinet is prepared to allow most of the proposed EU constitution to be implemented, according to today's Volkskrant. The paper bases its claims on an analysis of speeches and memos by ministers on the changes they want to the constitution. The Netherlands rejected the constitution by almost 62% in a referendum in 2005.What is not in the EN version of this item, but is in the NL version (courtesy of Elsevier) is this little gem by CDA MP Ormel:
The Dutch proposals include removing passages about the European flag and anthem as well as the 15-page Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Volkskrant reports. Another 150 pages can be scrapped by removing text that overlaps with the treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Maastricht, the paper claims.
Many of the measures the Dutch want to see implemented - such as more power for national parliaments, a smaller European Commission and more cooperation between member states on climate, energy, environmental and immigration policy - are already part of the constitution, the Volkskrant says.
'The main driving force behind the constitution is unchanged,' Liberal (VVD) MP Hans van Baalen told the paper. 'Essential items such as the size of the commission, the voting relationship between member states and the scrapping of our veto rights are unchanged.'
Christian Democrat (CDA) MP Henk Jan Ormel pointed out that 18 of the 27 EU countries have approved the constitution. ‘It will already be quite an achievement if the cabinet succeeds in changing 5% of the constitution. The remaining 95% will remain as it is,’ he told the paper.
European affairs minister Frans Timmermans said he was surprised by the MPs conclusions. 'The constitutional elements have disappeared from the text,' Timmermans said.
If the cabinet succeeds in changing 5% of the Constitution it will be quite an achievement. The remaining 95% will remain as it is. If we set ourselves the goal to change even more, and we fail, we would be forced to leave the Union. That is not what the Dutch people want.Speak for yourself, Henk Jan. I'd rather that the Dutch government go for broke, negotiating a *good* treaty. One that puts a stop to the ever encroaching powers of the EU. And if that is not accepted by the 'colleagues' we have no business being in the EU to begin with.
Interestingly, today also saw the publication of the results of a survey by the Socio-Cultural Planning buro (SCP) among the Dutch on their feelings towards matters EU. Support for EU membership has dropped from 75% in 1995 to 64% now, according the SCP. And the drop may be even larger, because the SCP was caught in some overly handy juggling of numbers.
Remarkable is the way in which the survey measures support for the European Constitution. SCP says 59 percent of the Dutch are against an EU Constitution. At the same time, the accompanying table shows that 59 percent are in favour. This is not a typing error, but the number that "wholly or somewhat" support the Constitution, an explanatory note says.Elsewhere, we read that the same survey found:
Some 55% of those polled said there is not enough about the EU on tv and 33% said newspapers and magazines do not pay enough attention to European issues.I have a strong suspicion that if the Dutch MSM took these feelings to heart and started reporting more extensively on matters EU, a substantially larger fraction of the Dutch public would fall out of love with the EU. It may turn out that Henk Jan Ormel is dead wrong about what the Dutch people want. Not that it matters, since the new cabinet has already decided that whatever new treaty will come about, you and I will not get to vote in another referendum. We've already been sold out to the Brussels burocracy. Better get used to the idea, I guess.
[UPDATE001] Then again, according to EU Referendum:
governments of three countries, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, have not been able to resist the temptation of ladling their own ideas into a putative treaty. They are resuscitating the old idea of giving national parliaments the power to block proposed EU legislation under a treaty, the so-called "red card" option.Question: How did the fact that the Dutch cabinet is 'resuscitating the old idea' of the "red card option" slip by the reporting? Or is EU Referendum wrong?
With the mice nibbling at the margins, any idea of the "colleagues" agreeing a "treaty-lite" in June – comprising a cut-down version of the original constitution draft, but no other changes – are almost certainly nil.