EU Treaty Agreement means it's time to choose: will the European project proceed with the people, or without them?

19 October 2007

EU Treaty Agreement means it's time to choose: will the European project proceed with the people, or without them?

“Now that there is a definitive text for the new EU Treaty, the question becomes one of whether we try to further the European project with the people, or whether we proceed without them," says SP European affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel. “A clear majority of Europeans want referendums to be held," he added. "If this doesn't happen, the EU will distance itself still further from the people it claims to serve. It will remain a project of politicians and bureaucrats and Euroscepticism will become ever more widespread."

Van Bommel said that he was pleased that a definitive text was at last on the table, giving the government the opportunity to make clear just what was in it. “This week I told the Prime Minister that it was his duty to provide the Dutch people with sound information on the new treaty. In recent weeks I've been flooded with e-mails and letters from people wanting to know just what was in it. It was difficult to explain that there was as yet no final text for the treaty, when the government had already stated that it didn't feel it needed to be put to referendum. Now the Dutch people can at last form their own judgement, and they will see that it is, on the contrary, certainly of sufficient importance to warrant a referendum.”

In order to increase pressure on government and parliamentarians, the SP is calling on people to sign a national petition demanding that a referendum be held. "The decision not to hold a referendum is not yet absolutely final," Van Bommel points out. "Together with a number of other parties, both supporters and opponents of the treaty, we intend, as soon as Parliament resumes after the recess, to propose a motion containing the legal formality necessary before a referendum can be held. If the VVD (the centre-right opposition party) supports the holding of a popular vote as it did last time around, we only need nine Labour members to vote for it and we will have a majority. This is not unrealistic, because if Labour MPs can change their minds once, why shouldn't they do so again?"

At the same time as it campaigns for a referendum in the Netherlands, the SP is working with like-minded groups in the UK, Denmark, France, Germany and other member states to ensure that as many Europeans as possible are given the chance to express their opinion.

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