It is ‘high time’ the Netherlands makes it clear to its European partners how it intends to contribute to efforts to realise a European Constitution, former Belgian prime minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, tells the Financieele Dagblad today. Dehaene was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting in Madrid between the 18 countries which have ratified the treaty.
Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot is known to be unhappy about the meeting. ‘I do not think this is sensible,’ he said on Monday. ‘It has the appearance of a joint effort/action/ganging up? against the no-voters.’ He said he would have preferred a meeting of all 27 member states to begin to work on a compromise proposal.
The Netherlands voted overwhelmingly against a European constitution in a referendum in 2005. Last week, a NIPO poll showed that around 60% of Dutch voters are still opposed to an EU constitution – although almost half might be prepared to accept an amended version.
‘I understand Bot’s difficulties. The Netherlands has been a leading member of the European Union for years and is now in a difficult position,’ Dehaene told the paper. Dehaene was deputy chairman of the European Convention which drew up the blueprint for the draft constitution.
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