Senate speaks as voters forced to remain silent

7 July 2008

Senate speaks as voters forced to remain silent

Today and tomorrow the Senate will take its definitive decision on the Lisbon Treaty, which replaces the European Constitution rejected in 2005 by almost two-thirds of the Dutch electorate. A promised referendum on the new treaty was whipped out from under the noses of those same voters when Labour leader Wouter Bos, whose party had previously supported it, did a deal during the formation of the present governing coalition with Christian Democrat headman Jan Peter Balkenende.

Every indication is that the Senate will follow the lower house, ignore the stated opinion of the people and approve the Lisbon Treaty by a large margin. The SP's senators will be voting against, however, on the grounds that the new treaty is almost identical to the European Constitution.

Tiny KoxTiny Kox, SP leader in the Senate, rejects above all the centralising zeal and market fundamentalism of the design and direction of the European Union. In Senator Kox's view, the Netherlands should be putting its efforts into bringing about a more democratic, more social Europe, a Europe for which there is broad support amongst the people. Kox believes moreover that the voters will yet have a chance to have their say. Now that the Irish people have voted against the new treaty, it cannot enter into force as intended on 1st January. Since the Irish referendum, the Presidents of Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland have, for a variety of reasons, declined at the present time to put their signatures to it. There is thus an increasing likelihood that the elections for the European Parliament on 4th June will also serve as a sort of referendum on the direction in which the European Union should be going.

In the SP's view, 'Lisbon' is dead and work should be beginning on a better European treaty. This would not be a 'maxi-treaty' like the European Constitution or the Lisbon Treaty, but a clear and simple mini-treaty, whose main task would be to protect the people from 'Brussels' and ensure respect for national democracy.

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