Combs Spouts Off

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How do you say “hell, no” in Dutch?

Posted by Richard on June 1, 2005

The EU constitution is 0 for 2 this week:

The state broadcaster NOS said that with nearly three-quarters of the results counted, the constitution was losing by a vote of 62 percent to 39 percent, an even worse defeat than the 55 percent "no" vote in France’s referendum Sunday.

Turnout was 62 percent, far exceeding even the most optimistic expectations and a reflection of the heated debate in recent days over an issue that has polarized Europeans. Dutch liberals worried a more united EU could weaken liberal social policies, while conservatives feared losing control of immigration.

Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people’s verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.

No big surprise here, except for the turnout.

Meanwhile, back in Brussels, they’re still insisting that the process should continue:

At EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged member governments not to make any hasty judgments about the ratification process and wait for the bloc’s mid-June summit to assess the constitution’s situation.

"We have a serious problem, but we must continue our work," Barroso said.

Let’s see now — all 25 member nations have to ratify the constitution, and now two have rejected it. But we don’t want to make any hasty judgments about the ratification process, do we? I suppose "continue our work" means "figure out some way to repeat the process in France and the Netherlands until they give us the answer we want."

At least some of the Dutch (perhaps more than the French) seem to have voted no for good reasons:

Opponents said they feared the Netherlands, a nation of 16 million people, would be overwhelmed by a European superstate even though the Dutch pay more per capita than any other country into the collective EU kitty.

"Even though"?? I suppose it wouldn’t occur to an AP reporter that they might fear the EU superstate in part because they pay more per capita.

Nicolas Ilaria, an immigrant from Suriname, said he was voting no. "In principle, I’m against bureaucracy and I don’t believe everything is working well now," he said as he read a newspaper at an Amsterdam cafe.

Like many others, Ilaria voiced an underlying mistrust of Dutch politicians. "The government is not telling the truth about what is in the treaty," he said.

Now that’s the kind of immigrant they need more of. Maybe there’s hope for Europe yet.

"Things are going too fast," said Maarten Pijnenburg, in the "no" camp. "There’s not enough control over the power of European politicians" under the new constitution.

You’ve nailed it, Maarten!

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