Monday

20th Nov 2017

Dutch citizens' group wants to vote on EU-Ukraine treaty

  • Posters in the 2005 referendum campaign in Amsterdam (Photo: Simon Groenewolt)

A popular blog and a foundation critical of the EU's 'democratic deficit' and the pace of European integration are rallying Dutch citizens to support a referendum on the EU's association agreement with Ukraine.

The group, called Burgercomite EU (Citizens' committee EU), and the blog Geenstijl, are profiting from a new democratic tool in the Netherlands which allows citizens to call for a consultative referendum on a recently adopted law or treaty.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Dutch PM Rutte signing the EU-Ukraine treaty in Brussels, last year. (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

They need 10,000 signatures by 6 August for a preliminary request for a referendum. After the request is accepted by the Electoral Council, another 300,000 signatures need to be raised in six weeks.

Geenstijl (Dutch for 'no style') is the 44th most popular website in the country, ahead of on-demand video site Netflix. It is known for its sarcasm but also for its power to rally people in campaigns. Still, it called the 300,000 mark “near impossible” to reach.

“But if we succeed, then we win a real national EU referendum. That is worth a try, right,” says the website.

Why Ukraine?

The reason why they want to vote on Ukraine is partly a question of timing.

The new Dutch referendum law went into effect on 1 July and only applies to legislation adopted subsequently. The Senate approved the EU agreement with Ukraine on 7 July, so it was the first available opportunity.

However, they also are critical of how the EU handled Russia's conflict with Ukraine and called the EU-Ukraine treaty “provocative and a threat to the welfare and well-being of us and the Ukrainians”.

The approval of the EU-Ukraine treaty was published Tuesday (28 July) in the Dutch government's public journal, but due to the referendum request, its entry into force has been put on hold until September.

It is not the first campaign by Burgercomite EU.

In 2013, it collected 56,000 signatures for a citizens' initiative, calling for a parliamentary debate and vote to “stop the creeping transfer of powers to the EU”. Despite the effort, the proposal for an in/out referendum was defeated by 112 to 38 MPs.

Another citizens' initiative, calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the introduction of the euro, is still under review.

Non-binding

Even if the campaign succeeds and a majority votes No in a referendum, the result will be non-binding.

However, the 2005 referendum on the European constitutional treaty was also non-binding.

The result - 61.6 percent No, compared to over 80 percent of MPs who campaigned for a Yes – was such a blow, that it completely changed the mood on EU affairs.

Focus

Dutch euroscepticism moves mainstream

Dutch voters critical of the European Union will have an array of parties to choose from when they go to the polls in next month's EU elections.

Meat 'taboo' debated at Bonn climate summit

Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but until recently it 'was an issue that was really brushed under the carpet'.

Analysis

Sicily: Renzi finds Achilles heel in boot of Italy

Elections in Sicily at the weekend saw Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party trounced into third place - can the one-time wonder kid of Italian politics bounce back in time for 2018's national election?

News in Brief

  1. European Banking Authority will move to Paris
  2. EU court threatens daily fine over Polish forest logging
  3. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  5. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  6. Schulz calls for new German elections
  7. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  8. EU adopts new border check rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  2. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  3. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  4. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  6. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  7. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  8. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  10. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  11. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future