Dutch MP moves to block approval of EU bailout fund

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 11, 2012 3:12 PM
Dutch MP moves to block approval of EU bailout fund

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who aims to turn a September 12 election into a referendum on the euro and EU membership, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday aimed at postponing the Dutch parliament's ratification of Europe's permanent bailout fund until after the vote.

Wilders' move comes amid popular resentment at European Union bailouts for the bloc's smaller debt-saddled economies.

A 59 percent majority of Dutch voters is in favor of postponing a decision until after the elections, a poll by Dutch TV program showed.

But an analyst and politicians said the court was unlikely to prevent parliament discussing the fund, known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), before deciding on Wednesday whether to ratify it.

Wilders brought about the collapse of the government last month after he refused to support budget cuts. He has proposed that the Netherlands leave the euro zone.

His Freedom Party, which rose in popularity pushing an anti-Islam and anti-immigration agenda, is the third-largest in parliament but has lost some support in recent opinion polls.

A court in The Hague received Wilders' request on Tuesday and a hearing will be held on May 29 to decide when it will rule on the matter, a court spokeswoman said.

Wilders said on Twitter that he had filed the request, ending his message with the term "STOPESM".

Douwe Jan Elzinga, professor of constitutional law at the University of Groningen, said it would be unusual for a court to overrule a decision by parliament and effectively reverse it.

"That is very complicated and the chance is not very great that he (Wilders) will win," Elzinga said.

"This is to generate public attention."

The ESM, scheduled to start operating in July, together with the European Financial Stability Facility will be able to lend up to 700 billion euros to bail out euro zone member countries.

A majority grouping in the lower house of parliament consisting of the Liberal, Christian Democrat, Labour, Democrats 66 and GreenLeft parties said they supporting ratifying the ESM. Parliament will vote on it on Wednesday.

The EU-skeptical Socialist Party, currently the biggest or second-biggest in polls, said it was against the fund because it would lead to spending of Dutch money without Dutch control, and harmful fiscal policies.

"Countries with a high debt burden will sink deeper into the debt crisis because wage reductions and spending cuts will cause these economies to shrink, making the debt burden even more unsustainable," Socialist MP Ewout Irrgang said in parliament.

(Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Andrew Roche)