Cabinet receives painful report on EU sentiments
March 23, 2007 Leave a Comment
The cabinet was celebrating 50 years of European collaboration yesterday but confronted with a dramatic report on the views of the Dutch on the EU.
In the Knight’s Hall of Parliament in The Hague a conference was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende praised the EU abundantly as a partnership that has brought prosperity and security, but also spoke of a “home that needs maintenance” in order to keep it a pleasant place. “A robust home with open windows.”
The European Parliament Bureau and the Institute for Politics and the Public (IPP) presented the cabinet with the results of a survey held after four debates with citizens on the EU between November and February. Although the test group was more pro-European than the average in the Netherlands, the conclusions were in general negative.
Only 37 percent of the Dutch population voted ‘yes’ to the European Constitution in the June 2005 referendum. Among the participants in the four debates, about half were Constitution backers in 2005. But now, only one in three of them still embrace the rejected Treaty. One in three consider only the non-controversial parts of the Constitution should be introduced.
If a new treaty is concluded, a majority of the interviewees wants this presented to the country again in a referendum. Only one in three consider Turkey’s membership a good thing. Half are against this, while 17 percent have no views. Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia can count on more support; just over half welcome their accession.
Like the government, a majority of respondents want more EU cooperation in policy areas such as the environment and security, but more national sovereignty in various other areas. The respondents also want EU-wide referenda, more powers for the European Parliament and fully public ministerial meetings.
Radio programme Standpunt yesterday presented the statement ‘The EU is a success’. Only 37 percent agreed with the statement, while 63 percent disagreed.
Source: NIS News, ANP, 23 March 2007