EU treaty closes ‘chapter on constitution’

The new EU treaty agreed by ministers after a marathon sitting will allow the Netherlands and Europe to move on and ‘closes the chapter on the constitution’, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said this morning.

The results do justice to the Dutch ‘no vote’ in the 2005 referendum, he said and almost all the Netherland’s demands had been met. ‘I am pleased because it meets the concerns of our citizens and achieves what we wanted,’ ANP reported the prime minister as saying.
The new treaty scraps all references to the word constitution, nor are the European flag and anthem mentioned.
The text also tightens up the admission criteria for new member states – another major Dutch demand – but not as much as the Netherlands had hoped for.
The controversial charter of fundamental rights has been scrapped, largely at British insistence and there will be no EU minister of foreign affairs, but a high representative.
The treaty text has also been changed in several places to emphasise the role of national governments and remove Dutch fears of ‘creeping influence from Brussels’. Proposals from the European Commission can also now be rejected if 15 out of the 27 member states are opposed to them. The Netherlands had wanted a lower limit.
Socialist party MPs immediately called for a referendum on the treaty next spring, saying that the changes were largely symbolic. ‘The right to veto has been scrapped in a lot of places,’ said the party’s Europe spokesman Harry van Bommel. ‘This is a far-reaching treaty’.
For more on the night’s events, check out the BBC website.

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