EU Charter Frightens Dutch

AMSTERDAM – The proposed constitution for the 25-member European Union is causing concern in this and other liberal Netherlands enclaves.

Owners and employees of sex shops and coffeehouses, where marijuana and hashish products are legal to purchase, worry that, though nothing is specifically forbidden about their businesses in the new laws, common sense dictates that Holland would need to conform to the rest of Europe rather than vice versa, and Amsterdam’s famous red light district would fade.

Though the Netherlands is a founding member of the EU, concerns abound in the small country over what it feels is (EU Capital) Brussels’ incompetence and soaring inflation since the introduction of the euro.

In addition, rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the small country came to the fore when radical Islamists murdered an anti-immigration politician in 2002 and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh last year. Predominantly Muslim Turkey is being primped for membership in the EU by 2007.

Holland will go to the polls June 1 in a non-binding referendum vote. Some surveys indicate that a simple majority of the country will vote No. As each nation must approve the constitution for it to take effect, the Netherlands appears to be the lone holdout now that French polls show support for the constitution, for which the country will stage a plebiscite on May 29.

British prime minister Tony Blair has revealed that England will not hold a referendum if the French turn down the constitution, as one nation’s No vote would send the document back to the drawing board. The English have also been wary of adopting the constitution.

The Dutch became a signatory to the EU’s establishment in 1992.