Cabinet against referendum on EU treaty

The cabinet will not hold a new referendum on the future of the European Union, reports Thursday’s Volkskrant, quoting anonymous government sources.

The proposed treaty which replaces the EU constitution that was rejected in a Dutch referendum two years ago, will be put to parliament but not to the people,
Says the Volkskrant.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende is fiercely against another referendum on the EU. ‘Balkenende walked barefoot through fire to achieve a treaty that does justice to the objections of those that rejected the constitution,’ one source tells the paper.
The cabinet is expected to be unanimous in rejecting a second referendum although two Labour (PvdA) members, education minister Ronald Plasterk and social affairs minister Guusje ter Horst, are believed to support a public vote on the issue.
They and other Labour ministers will use the advice of the Council of State to justify their opposition to a referendum. Although not officially made public, leaks suggest that the government’s highest advisory body will say that a referendum on the new EU treaty is not necessary.
In theory MPs can go against the cabinet’s wishes and organise a referendum but it is unclear whether the Labour parliamentary party would support such a move and give it the majority it needs.
The biggest advocate of a referendum is the opposition Socialist Party which will ask for an emergency debate if the cabinet says it will not hold a new referendum, says the Volkskrant.
The cabinet will announce its decision tomorrow, the paper says.

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