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Brits, Poles and Danes would also reject EU charter, Dutch PM suggests

30 January 2006

Jim  Allister has today welcomed the statement released today by the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Brits, Poles and Danes would also reject EU charter, Dutch PM suggests

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has suggested that referendums on the EU constitution in the UK, Poland and Denmark would result in a "no" like in his own country, while shrugging off responsibility for the union's constitutional deadlock.

Mr Balkenende made his remarks on Friday (27 January) at a high-profile conference on European identity, staged by the Austrian EU presidency in a bid to revive the debate on the EU constitution.

The Dutch leader told reporters "the problem is not only France and the Netherlands," referring to the two nations voting "no" to the constitution in referendums last year.

"If you had referendums in Poland, the UK or Denmark, I'm not sure what would happen," he said, referring to votes which were initially planned but called off after the French and Dutch referendums.

The remarks were aimed at critics who hold France and the Netherlands responsible for holding up further ratification of the EU charter, which has so far been ratified by 13 member states.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot earlier this month declared the constitution "dead," a remark which Mr Balkenende declined to repeat, but backed up by saying it is "unrealistic that the constitution will be put to voters a second time."

Mr Bot's remark drew strong criticism particularly from the European Parliament, with Hans-Gert Pottering, the leader of the centre-right EPP faction, saying "I have no understanding at all for such statements. It should be his responsibility to propose ways how the constitution can be transposed into legal and political reality."

But The Hague has so far refused to take any political initiative, or even to provide a political assessment of what it thinks the deeper causes of the Dutch "no" are.

"It is too early to make statements," Mr Balkenende said, adding he wants to await results of ongoing government research into Dutch people's attitude to Europe, expected for the end of April.

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EU Constitution