‘Many not happy’ with Dutch limits of Ukraine pact

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the EU "can continue to form a united front against destabilising Russian foreign policy." [European Council]

Many countries are not happy with the arrangement to push through the EU-Ukraine pact following the Dutch referendum, in which a majority of votes rejected the deal, a diplomat said ahead of tomorrow’s (15 December) EU summit.

The summit is a final deadline to unlock the impasse in which the EU has found itself since 6 April, when Dutch voters rejected the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA). The Netherlands is the only country not having ratified the agreement.

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine association

Dutch voters on Wednesday (6 April) rejected a European pact with Ukraine in a referendum seen as a barometer of anti-EU feeling, dealing an embarrassing blow to the government in charge of the rotating EU presidency, sending shockwaves throughout the Union.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte plans to ask EU leaders to put limits on the association agreement.

Netherland's Rutte still mired in Ukraine referendum aftermath

At the EU summit overnight (20-21 October) Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte obtained little support for his proposals for a way forward following the referendum in which his compatriots rejected the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

A Dutch-drafted document quoted by Reuters states that the Netherlands wants to make it clear that this association agreement is not a “stepping stone” for the Ukraine to become a member of the European Union.

It also explicitly states that the agreement “does not contain an obligation for the Union or its member states to provide collective security guarantees or other military aid or assistance to Ukraine”. It also does not require additional financial support from the EU.

All these elements are not specifically promised to the Ukraine in the association agreement, but the Dutch want to explicitly rule them out.

Rutte hopes that this compromise, should the other EU member states agree to it, will ease the concerns of the Dutch voters, while still enabling the Netherlands to ratify the agreement. Should the EU member states accept the compromise, Rutte still has to pass it through the Dutch parliament, where the association agreement with the Ukraine does not have majority support.

“I assume we are more or less there. Many people around the table are not very happy. But the ratification must be finalised, and there isn’t much to do about that,” the diplomat said.

Asked about Poland, the EU country known to be the most supportive of Ukraine, the diplomat expressed optimism, because in his view the “smartly drafted” text didn’t speak of an EU perspective for Ukraine, and only said the AA did not confer Ukraine a candidate status, “which is quite obvious”.

The diplomat admitted that in the event that the Netherlands fails to ratify the deal, no further tricks would make sense and the EU will have to admit that it is dead in the water.

Dutch referendum on Ukraine treaty will test anti-EU sentiment

A Dutch national referendum today (6 April) on the EU-Ukraine Association agreement is turning into a test of anti-EU sentiment before June’s Brexit vote.

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