United Kingdom, Czech Republic suspend referendums on EU constitution

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary for the United Kingdom, said on Monday that the UK will not vote as planned on the new constitution for the European Union. "Until the consequences of France and the Netherlands being unable to ratify the treaty are clarified it would not in our judgment now be sensible to set a date," said Straw.

A British poll indicates 56% would vote "no" at this point if given a chance, while only 22% would vote "yes".

Following the UK's decision, the Czech Republic also suspended its referendum. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said that for his country it is "impossible at this moment [to have its referendum]. At this moment it is necessary to start with discussions about future of the European constitution, about the future of this process in the Czech Republic," said Paroubek, citing "strong opposition" to the treaty.

Other remaining countries such as Denmark, Ireland, and Poland could also suspend their referendums. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are pushing for the ratification process to continue.

The draft of the new EU constitution was approved in 9 other countries, before being rejected in referendums held in France on May 29 and in the Netherlands on June 1. The constitution requires the unanimous approval of all 25 EU countries by November 1, 2006 to take effect, a prospect that seems increasingly remote.