Government still trying to smuggle EU Constitution in by back door

11 May 2007

Government still trying to smuggle EU Constitution in by back door

SP Member of Parliament and spokesman on EU affairs Harry van Bommel, says that he "finds it unacceptable that the government wants to leave the major part of the European Constitution intact". Van Bommel was responding to a letter sent to parliament this week by the cabinet, in which it expresses the wish that a number of symbols, such as the European flag and anthem, be removed from the treaty and its name changed, while the essentials remain unaltered. Expressing the view that this was no more than "a straightforward sleight-of-hand trick", Van Bommel described it as "a threat to everyone who less than two years ago participated in the referendum," adding that "the European Constitution is being smuggled in through the back door, disguised in a new dress."

Harry van Bommel during 2005 campaign
Harry van Bommel during the 2005 campaign against the European Constitution

“After the referendum all parties said that they had learned their lesson, but they are now, on the quiet, about to embark on the same course again,” concludes Van Bommel. After what is no more than a largely cosmetic amending of the text, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen believes that it would be unnecessary to lay it once more before the electorate in a new referendum.

“If the government succeeds in changing five percent of the old Constitution, that would be enough. The remaining 95 percent can stay as it is," Christian Democrat (CDA) spokesman Henk Jan Ormel has said, while for the right-wing opposition party the VVD, Member of Parliament Hans van Baalen also recognised that the document remained for the most part unchanged. "Essential matters such as relations of voting strength between the member states and the giving up of our right of veto have not been touched.”

"We had even before this the dark suspicion that the right wing parties and Labour wanted to bring the Euro Constitution in by the back door," Van Bommel said. "Now that the right has admitted in plain language that this is the case, only the Labour Party is playing dumb. That the Christian Democrats and Labour are doing all in their power to avoid a new referendum shows that they want nothing to do with the people's judgement. The SP, however, will continue to offer resistance to the push towards what would be a major step in the direction of a European superstate.”

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