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Europe responds to Dutch 'No'

Voters in the Netherlands have decisively voted against the EU constitution in a referendum.

The country is the second to reject the draft constitution, after the French also voted "No".

Below are some of the reactions of key European leaders and officials following the Dutch vote.

JAN PETER BALKENENDE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER

The Dutch people have spoken tonight. It is a clear result. Naturally I am very disappointed.

The voters have given a clear signal that cannot be misunderstood. We must do everything we can to involve citizens in the Europe of the future. The cabinet will engage itself in that.

GERHARD SCHROEDER, GERMAN CHANCELLOR

I take note of the result of the referendum in the Netherlands with respect but also with great regret.

We must acknowledge that many Europeans doubt that Europe is able to answer the urgent questions of the moment.

The crisis surrounding the ratification of the European constitution must not become Europe's general crisis.

Every member state has the right, and a duty, to go through its own vote. I am convinced that we need the constitution if we want a democratic, social minded and strong Europe.

JACQUES CHIRAC, FRENCH PRESIDENT

This new negative result in a founding member of the union and committed to European construction shows strong expectations, questions and concerns about the development of the European project.

While 11 countries have already come to a decision, it is the responsibility of all the other member states of the union to have their say.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT

We have a serious problem, but we must continue our work.

I will ask member states to avoid any unilateral initiatives before the summit [on 16-17 June]. We need to know where we're going.

I hope the heads of state and government will give a clear signal about the future of the European Union.

JACK STRAW, UK FOREIGN SECRETARY

The prime minister and I have long made clear that the constitutional treaty is a good deal for Britain and for the EU.

But the verdict of these referendums now raises profound questions for all of us about the future direction of Europe.

In an era of globalisation, when nations need to find new ways to work together to tackle new problems, Europe needs to be capable of giving citizens the prosperity, security and social justice they require in ways which fit the modern world.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PM OF LUXEMBOURG AND EU PRESIDENT

Europe is not knocked down... we will do everything to ensure that it recovers very quickly. We have to acknowledge that Europe no longer makes people dream.

We want the other member states to have the opportunity to tackle the same debate. We feel the ratification process should continue.

This is a dangerous position to be in. We need to show the outside world that we are sticking to the path of a better future.

GEERT WILDERS, DUTCH POLITICIAN IN 'NO' CAMP

I had not expected this massive turnout. I am proud of the Dutch people.

GRAHAM WATSON, LIBERAL LEADER IN EU PARLIAMENT

The French slapped the left cheek of Europe, the Dutch have now slapped the right. I hope this will bring the European Union out of its torpor and force its leaders ... to show leadership.

ARTIS PABRIKS, LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

We think this treaty is the best compromise we could find. We know it's not perfect, but we have to go on.


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