This morning the 223,000 voters of Luxemburg voted in favour of the EU Constitution with a majority of 56.5% “Jo” against 43.5% “Nee.” The Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg, though the richest of all EU member states, is the largest net receiver of EU handouts, getting 1,700 euros per head per year from Brussels – five times more than any other member state. Given these figures it is significant that more than four in every ten Luxemburgians rejected the EU Constitution. Luxemburg, which has only 0.05% of the EU population, has no unemployment. Its capital, Luxemburg City, houses many of the EU institutions and is considered one of the three official EU capitals, along with Brussels and Strassburg. The little country is widely known for its banks and its farmers driving mercedeses and BMWs, but the national motto “Wir bleiben was wir sind” (We want to remain what we are) clearly appealed to many.
According to Luxemburg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, his country’s “Jo” has “saved” Europe. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, called Luxemburg’s vote “a clear signal.” Luxemburg is the second European country, after Spain, where the EU Constitution gained the support of a majority of the voters in a referendum. France and the Netherlands, the two other countries that have so far allowed their citizens a direct say in a referendum, rejected it.
Eurofederalists hope that the yes-vote in Luxemburg will be able to offset the no-votes of the Dutch and the French and revive the Constitution. The referendum is not binding, but the Luxemburgian Chamber of Representatives has already approved the Constitution with 55 votes in favour, while the remaining 5 representatives were absent in protest. Because the country is so small it has no Senate and its 60 representatives have to vote every bill twice, which means that the Constitution will be brought before the Chamber again this Autumn.