Greens Want To Ban Referendums On European Questions, As Direct Democracy Threatens the EU

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A senior Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the German Green Party has called for an end to referendums on issues “not suitable” for direct democracy because they threaten the very existence of the European Union (EU).

Rebecca Harms MEP (pictured above), a qualified tree surgeon and Co-President of The Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, has said that some questions relating to the EU are not suitable for referendums.

Showing how much she values direct democracy, Ms. Harms used the shock of the recent rejection of the EU-Ukrainian agreement by the Netherlands to make the case for limiting the use of referendums in future warning that they could “endanger the existence of the EU”, reports Austria’s largest newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

According to German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the list of subjects which others have deemed “not suitable” for referendums include the controversial but yet-to-be-finalised Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement with the U.S., the principle of open borders within the EU, and the future of the euro currency.

Ms. Harms suggested that the recent vote in the Netherlands — where on a turnout of 32 per cent 61 per cent of those who voted rejected the EU-Ukrainian agreement — proved that the outcomes of referendums are often based on issues other than the question being put to the vote. She suggested that campaign was not really a rejection of EU expansion and trade, but instead “a campaign for rejection which was directed more against anything and everything up there in Brussels.”

Even worse, the left wing German newspaper Junge Welt reports that Ms. Harms claimed it is unacceptable for a mob of people to be able to reject an agreement that was “supported by all governments of Member States and their parliaments.”

The vote in the Netherlands has been seen as a sign of a general EU-weariness. As such it is feared that the decision may set a precedent and give British eurosceptics a valuable tailwind before the UK’s In/Out referendum in June.

Comments from the likes of Ms. Harms, suggesting the EU will want to limit direct democracy in future by banning referendums on issues fundamental to the existence of the politico-trading bloc, may prompt some British voters to make the best of their last chance for freedom by voting to leave in June.

Follow Sarkis Zeronian on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.