Cabinet to veto EU referendum plan

The cabinet will block plans by a group of opposition MPs to force a referendum on the new EU treaty, the Volkskrant reports on Saturday. Ministers decided on Friday not to hold a referendum on the treaty because it was not a constitution, and only need parliament’s approval.

However, Socialist, GroenLinks and D66 MPs say they plan to introduce a private members’ bill for a referendum.
Labour (PvdA) MPs, who are part of the governing coalition, have not yet decided whether or not to support the referendum call. The party made a new referendum one of the central planks in its 2006 election campaign. Jan Pronk, who is likely to be elected party chairman on Monday, is also a supporter.
‘If [the plan to veto a referendum] is correct, it is the ultimate evidence of the arrogance of power,’ GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema told the Volkskrant.
‘Ministers are obviously very worried about the outcome.’
‘This will only strengthen the feeling among ordinary people that everything to come out of Europe is not to be trusted,’ she was quoted as saying.
In 2005, the Dutch voted over 60% against the EU constitution, effectively scuppering the plan.
If a bill calling for referendum is passed by the lower and upper houses of parliament, it needs to be signed by the queen and by the minister responsible to become law.
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the minor opposition party D66, said if the minister refused to sign the bill, MPs could then threaten not to ratify the new treaty.

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