Barroso ups pressure over EU constitution

European Commission chairman José Manuel Barroso is increasing the pressure on the Netherlands to help find a solution to the impasse over the proposed EU constitution, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

The Dutch and French rejected the constitution in referenda in 2005. ‘If you have signed a treaty, you must ratify it,’ Barroso told journalists. ‘And if you cannot ratify it, you must at least contribute towards finding a solution.’ Dutch prime minister Jan Pieter Balkenende was one of the signatories of the constitutional treaty in October 2004.
On Monday ANP said political sources had confirmed media reports that the new cabinet has agreed not to introduce a new referendum on the EU constitution.
Dutch political parties, including the coalition parties, are divided on how to progress on the issue. ANP said the incoming cabinet has now agreed that the Council of State should first examine any new text that is drafted for the EU constitution. Parliament can then decide itself whether a new referendum is necessary or make its own decision.
Meanwhile Barrosa has told reporters ahead of his visit to the Netherlands on Thursday: ‘It is a question of trust. Treaties must be complied with. That is the basis of international law.’ Asked if it might not be more sensible to let the constitution idea drop, Barroso said the EU, which now has 500 million citizens, needs a constitutional basis.
The ‘no vote’ has not made life easier, he said, but refused to criticise what the Volkskrant described as ‘Dutch negativism’. ‘It is our job to bring countries closer together, not drive them apart. But of course we hope the new Dutch government will play a constructive role in finding a solution,’ he said.

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