Czech Republic

EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said (7 October 2003) that his government will submit a bill on holding referenda which would enable people to express their stance towards the draft of the European constitution.

The government will not draft a special law applying only to a referendum on the EU constitution but a general law on referendums which would pave the way to holding nation-wide polls on various issues.

The main political force in the Czech Parliament to push for a referendum on the EU constitution is the opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) party. The Civil Democrats and the Communists are against the draft Constitution.

A combined push by these two parties could mean that the government will not have enough support in the Parliament to push through the ratification procedure.


EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - Ireland will definitely have a referendum on the European Constitution. According to the Irish Constitution, Article 46, the government is required to put any issue to a referendum if it will alter the Constitution.

Art 46.2 states: "Every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution shall be initiated in Dáil Éireann as a Bill, and shall upon having been passed or deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, be submitted by Referendum to the decision of the people in accordance with the law for the time being in force relating to the Referendum".

Ireland has had a referendum on every major European Treaty or Act starting in 1987 with the Single European Act. It also voted on the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 (which paved the way to the Euro), the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998 and the Treaty of Nice.

On the last treaty, Ireland caused a furore in the EU by rejecting it the first time round in June 2001. It then voted on the same Treaty again the following year in October - and voted in favour.

Ireland's surprise rejection of the Nice Treaty, however, was responsible for really opening the debate on the what to do if a small country holds up implementation of a treaty for the rest of the EU.

EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - In both chambers of the Dutch parliament there is a stable political majority in favour of holding a referendum on the European Constitution.

The referendum is most likely to take place on the same day as the European Parliament elections in June 2004.

The parliament is expected to decide in February on the ad-hoc law setting the details for the referendum. It will be the first nation-wide referendum in Dutch history.

The poll is not expected to be binding but the government has said it will respect the outcome.


EUOBSERVER / REFERNDUM - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen plans to have a referendum on the EU Constitution and a separate referendum on the Danish opt-out of judicial co-operation.

In a press conference (17 September 2003) in Copenhagen, Mr Rasmussen said the two referenda should be held separately, but he did not specify if they were to be held on the same day.

The Danish government would like to change its judicial 'opt-out' of the current treaty, to a more flexible model with the possibility to opt-in - similar to the Irish and British model - allowing partial co-operation.

Denmark has had five EU related referenda of which three resulted in a yes-majority and two ended with a majority of no-votes (in 1992 on the Maastricht Treaty and in 2000 on the Euro).


EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg has stated, that the referendum will be binding and hold together with the European elections.

The LSAP (Lëtzebuergesch Sozialistesch Arbechterpartei) has brought the motion to the parliament. The motion demands a referendum on the EU constitution. However, it does not say that this referendum would be binding or consultative.

54 of the 59 parliamentarians have voted "yes", five members of the Green Party abstained

EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - The Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso has decided to hold a referendum on the European Constitution on the same day as the European Elections next June.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Council (7 October 2003) of his ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mr Durão Barroso said that this time offered the "best opportunity" for the Portuguese to voice their opinion.


EUOBSERVER / REFERENDUM - The Spanish government in summer struck a deal with the opposition party to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution which now looks almost certain to go ahead. However, a date has not yet been set.

The Spanish Constitution permits a binding and consultative referendum.

The Spanish Peoples Party (Partido Popular) is in favour of a referendum. It has been mooted that the poll may take place on the same day as the elections to the European Parliament in June 2004 although no official statement has yet been made.