| EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels. (AFP)
Amsterdam, June 2: The overwhelming rejection of the proposed European constitution by Dutch voters yesterday came as a rude shock to the bloc’s leaders in The Hague.
In a referendum on the issue yesterday, 62 per cent of the voters in the Netherlands said “No” to the idea of a common European constitution.
The Dutch political leaders made it clear that they will honour the sentiment expressed by the people and will not try to bring the proposal for a debate in parliament.
But the European Commission which has been badly-hit by the Dutch voters barely three days after the French vote, tried to put up a brave face.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso made it clear that the French and Dutch rejection will not be able to stop the process midway. “Both France and Holland are very important countries. But they can’t decide what others will do,” Barroso said.
But the commission’s brave face is being challenged as more and more people are raising questions on the logic behind pushing for a common European constitution when it has already been rejected by key EU members.
The EU heads of government are scheduled to meet in Brussels on June 16 and 17 to decide on the future of the union and the fate of a common constitution.
The Dutch papers have described yesterday’s rejection of the European constitution as a “rock hard” or “destroying” no for the EU.
Interestingly, Holland, which had been in the forefront of EU’s integration and has gained significantly in the economic field because of closer contacts with its European neighbours, today seems to be more rigid against a common European constitution.
Most people out in the streets in Amsterdam are happy that a categorical “No” has emerged from the referendum.
The Dutch fear seems to stem from two major areas. One, why should most of the important decisions be taken in Brussels ' the centre of the European Commission .
Two, the main concern seems to come from the immigrants who are likely to flood Holland if the integration is allowed to move at a faster pace.
Last year the Dutch government had thrown out over 26,000 asylum seekers from the country. With unemployment figures rising, the apprehensions of losing one’s livelihood is real among many people in Holland.
If most EU members reject the proposal, the common constitution will die a natural death. But if only a handful is opposed to it, then it is bound to create further divisions among the members and raise serious questions about EU integration.