Netherlands attacked for undermining EU constitution

A senior European Union lawmaker said Tuesday attacked Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot for suggesting that the draft European constitution cannot be saved, and slammed the Netherlands for undermining efforts to push ahead with the charter. "It made me furious to hear Bot saying the constitution is dead. The Netherlands makes no effort to help us out from this situation. No country, the Netherlands or other, should make such declarations," Hans-Gert Poettering, chairman of the conservative European People's Party, told journalists a day before the EU assembly was to relaunch a debate on the fate of the constitution.

The EU is in the middle of a one-year "period of reflection" on the text, which was rejected in referendums by French and Dutch voters last year. The parliament's constitutional affairs committee is calling for an EU constitution, perhaps with a revised wording, to be adopted by 2009.

Bot recently said that he believed the constitution was dead, while Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, in Strasbourg for the debate Wednesday, said it will be difficult to revive it. Austria holds the rotating presidency until June and is expected to come up with proposals on the way forward.

The constitution, which includes a lengthy bill of rights, aims to raise Europe's profile on the world stage through the creation of an EU president and foreign minister. The charter would also cut red tape and give more powers to the European Parliament, reports the AP. N.U.

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