“Referendums make the process of approval of European treaties much more complicated and less predictable,” he [Barroso] said, asking “every member state” considering a referendum to “think twice,” according to Het Financieele Dagblad.
“I was in favour of a referendum as a prime minister, but it does make our lives with 27 member states in the EU more difficult. If a referendum had been held on the creation of the European Community or the introduction of the euro, do you think these would have passed?” the commission chief asked according to De Volkskrant.
Hearing the head of the EU commission one does have to ask the question of whether the European Union exists to benefit its citizens or the politicians running it. While it is true that referendums does make things harder for Brussels, it would be nice if EU top representatives sometimes recognised that the Union is supposed to have a democratic foundation.
Having said that I do not wish to have referendums on every other thing. In general they aren’t worth the trouble or cost, but there is a point with holding a referendum when the political parties that people support in general differ greatly from the public in their opinion on a matter that the public finds important. The EU constitution might be such an issue, in many countries, though it does not have to be.
No matter whether one thought the Netherlands were right to hold a referendum on the constitutional treaty, it would be weird for them to not hold another one if the issue comes up again and politicians wish to overturn the outcome of the first.
Best of all, however, would be if the EU leaders gave up on this poor attempt at a constitution. Amendments to the decision process can be made anyway, without including a vast list of positive rights demanded by various special interests. With so many top politicians having put their prestige in the project, I suppose chances of them letting go of it aren’t too great though.