Dutch need in/out euro referendum, says former socialist leader

Wouter Bos [Partij van de Arbeid/Flickr]
Wouter Bos [Partij van de Arbeid/Flickr]

Wouter Bos, the former leader of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), has said that an in/out referendum on the euro should be put to Dutch citizens. "It is the only way to provide democratic legitimacy to European integration," Bos remarked on Sunday (9 March).

According to Bos, a referendum on the country’s membership of the eurozone would provide clarity in the debate.

“Voting in favour means to vote for the euro, for a banking authority and for [offering] financial aid [to other member states]. Voting against means bearing the consequences,” and thus accepting an exit from the eurozone, Bos argued at a debate on the European economic crisis on Sunday.

Bos served as Labour's president from 2002 to 2010 and as finance minister in the Dutch government from 2007 to 2010. He stepped out of politics in 2012.

“I can afford to speak out on bold ideas now,” he explained.

Diederik Samsom, the PvdA’s current party leader, reacted on Monday, saying he does not endorse the idea. Samsom said a referendum could be organised in case of an EU treaty change, but dismissed suggestions to organise such a vote in the near future.

The question about whether to organise a referendum keeps returning to Dutch politics. Last year, populist figurehead Geert Wilders challenged the socialists to jointly organise a public consultation on the country’s EU membership.

In the United Kingdom, David Cameron has promised to hold an in-/out referendum over the country's EU membership. The consultation will be organised after 2015, if his Conservative Party wins next year’s national elections.

Bos’ suggestion would only concern The Netherlands’ membership of the monetary union and eurozone, however.

Eurosceptics breathing down neck of government

The socialists, a member of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament, form a coalition government with the liberal-conservative VVD party, which is affiliated to the European liberal party ALDE.

But Dutch mainstream parties face strong pressure from eurosceptics, and recent polls credit Wilders' eurosceptic Freedom Party (PVV) with 17% to 19% of voting intentions at the next European elections.

Wilders has waged a campaign against the euro and the EU for years. In February, he presented a study on the ‘Nexit’ in which he claimed that walking out from the EU would be good for the Dutch economy. Observers widely believe he is likely to dominate the debate on whether The Netherlands should stay or leave the eurozone.

A large part of Dutch public opinion has opposed aid packages in the EU’s response to the financial crisis and many also protest against the country's net contribution to the EU budget.

In 2005, Dutch citizens rejected the European constitutional treaty by 61%. The Netherlands was the second country to reject the text, after 55% of French voters voted against the treaty three days earlier.

  • 19 March: Local elections in The Netherlands
  • 22-25 May: European elections
  • 2017: Referendum in the UK on its EU membership proposed by Cameron
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an european's picture

We should create the United States of Europe despite without Geerd Wilders or the entire NL or France if they don't want !
Ne euro No EFTA No Say !

Gerry's picture

The chance of such a move succeeding is pretty well non existent, but it would force people to focus on the subject, make up their minds and stop their bickering.

Barry Davies's picture

The euro isn't such a big problem to the Dutch as it is for the pigs nations, so a referendum on that single aspect is unlikely to succeed and then be abused as a vote in favour of the whole eussr project by the corruption ridden democratically deficient eussr, that isn't us the people we are only governed by it. It is time to dismantle the whole sorry excuse for an empire and allow the people of europe to grow again instead of the destruction being dropped on to us by this vile body. While in the eussr we have no say in how we are governed and only yet europhile minority are in favour of that condition.

James 's picture

All this fuss. Originally the skeptics thought it would not happen; then it did. Thereafter nothing but prognostications of an imminent collapse...dream on. It ain't going to collapse and Soros is absolutely right. The Euro is here to stay. Like any currency it is the creature of the Banking system and the politicians who meddle continuously with the "pound in our pocket" and know this are responsible for creating the circumstances to have an unsustainable economy, now wishing for inflation (oh! deflation, horror of horrors), now using public debt and not ever able to repay it except by devaluing the worth of money. Some call it quantitative easing! The public is not fooled; we want money that keeps its value and that the Euro does quite well. I applaud the stubborness and vision of European politicians that understand this and work to ensure the Euro works - to make a disciplined single market operate for all but the Luddites.

Barry Davies's picture

Well it is odd that the nations within it are making comments about it damaging their economies for some it is to strong for others to weak and it is having an adverse effect on the single market, however you europhiles carry on with your rose tinted blinkered propaganda that everything to do with the eussr is good. The Skeptiks never thought it wouldn't happen it was after all an edict from the unelected failed politicians on the commission, what did happen is that the ERM almost bankrupted Britain and we had to bail out of it before it was to late, since then we have stabilised despite the world wide economic downturn, unlike the eurozone how many nations have we had to bail out now?