Just days after rejecting the European Union (EU)/Ukraine Association Agreement in a nationwide vote, Dutch voters are increasingly looking to a referendum on the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as their next target.
TTIP supporters will be increasingly concerned that voters in the Netherlands may deal the EU/U.S. trade pact a deadly blow, as nearly 105,000 voters have lent their names to a petition demanding a referendum on the subject.
Using the country’s Advisory Referendum Act (ARA) — a law enacted last year — Dutch voters can request a referendum for any primary legislation, including treaty ratifications, after they are signed into law but normally before it enters into force. This was the mechanism used by the activist organisation GeenPeil to demand a public vote on the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement, the first ever Dutch ‘people’s referendum’.
A driving force behind the TTIP referendum request is the Socialist Party (formerly the Communist Party of the Netherlands/Marxist–Leninist), reports EurActiv.
The 300,000 target should be achievable for them, as in the 2012 general election they amassed 909,853 votes and 15 seats, virtually tying third place with Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom. In addition a number of non-governmental organisations, charities and other activist groups with a history of campaigning against TTIP are likely to bolster the effort.
The ARA requires the law being challenged to have been signed into law, so the current efforts are somewhat premature. As Breitbart London previously reported, American and EU negotiators are still rushing to finalise their TTIP deal before President Obama leaves office, as they increasingly fear the deal will be delayed another two to three years, or even collapse completely, once a new U.S. President is sworn in.
If and when TTIP negotiations conclude with an agreement, all those who have already signed the Socialist Party-backed petition will receive an email explaining how they can precipitate the process leading to a national vote.
The ARA requires that 10,000 verified signatures have to be received within four weeks after proclamation of the law. When that target is hit, the provisions concerning entry into force of the law in question are suspended. To then force the referendum 300,000 requests have to be received within six weeks of the 10,000 target being hit.
Even though merely “consultative”, a rejection of a TTIP treaty by Dutch voters in a subsequent referendum would make it very difficult for their lawmakers to plough on regardless.
TTIP’s collapse would be severely embarrassing for pro-EU campaigners who claim that the politico-trading bloc is uniquely qualified to negotiate international trade deals in its members’ interests.