Britain’s narrow vote in favour of leaving the European Union means Brussels must now undergo serious reform, many Dutch politicians said on Friday. In addition, the Netherlands’ own membership of the EU is likely to be a dominant issue in next year’s election campaign, commentators said.
‘It is a major blow, an earthquake,’ said parliamentarian Anne Mulder from the ruling VVD. ‘It will have major consequences for the European economy and the geopolitical balance. The Netherlands is losing an important ally in Brussels negotiations.’
However, Mulder said he did not expect the British decision to lead to a Nexit, or Dutch withdrawal from the EU. ‘The Dutch don’t want to leave the EU but they do want a different EU,’ he said.
The Socialist Party, which wants to see the EU reformed, described the result as a ‘mighty blow’.
‘It is a mighty blow for Brussels and politicians working towards the creation of a European super state,’ said party leader Emile Roemer on Twitter. ‘The EU needs an overhaul. Less Brussels, more democracy.’
Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel said Europe now needs to undergo some ‘serious self-reflection’. ‘Let us get rid of the European Commission and restore the power of the member states,’ the Volkskrant quotes him as saying.
‘If we do not do something about the mounting euroscepticism in all member states, there will be a domino effect and the EU will fall apart,’ he said. ‘And that is something I do not want to see happen.’
The Liberal Democratic party D66 said it is shocked and disappointed by the British vote. ‘The UK will have to leave the EU, whatever happens,’ said the party’s Europe spokesman Kees Verhoeven. ‘And the EU will have to find itself again and make changes.’
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-EU PVV which is currently the biggest party in the opinion polls, said it is now time for a Dutch vote on EU membership.
‘Hurray for Britain. Now it is our turn,’ wrote Wilders on Twitter. ‘Time for a Dutch referendum.’
However, organising a referendum in the Netherlands will not be easy because the referendum legislation only allows a vote on new laws and treaties.
The Netherlands goes to the polls to elect a new government in March 2017 and a Nexit is now likely to become a major election theme. ‘The danger is not so much that there will be a referendum in the Netherlands but that the genie is out of the bottle,’ said Van Bommel. ‘And a Nexit will be part of the 2017 election campaign.’