Friday

26th Apr 2019

Dutch PM asks opposition's help on Ukraine agreement

  • Dutch prime minister Rutte (l) thinks he can get a deal with other EU member states, but is dependent on opposition parties at home (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte pleaded with opposition parties on Friday (28 October) to help him find a response to the popular rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade deal earlier this year.

“In the interest of the nation, I appeal to the reasonable forces in the Netherlands to support the option for a solution,” Rutte said, adding it was an appeal “from the heart”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Last April, 61.1 percent of those Dutch voters who showed up in a citizens-enforced referendum voted to reject the European association agreement with Ukraine, which has been ratified in all other members states.

While the referendum was non-binding, the political establishment had promised not to ignore its results.

Now Rutte is facing a 1 November deadline, imposed by a majority in the Dutch parliament.

By Tuesday, Rutte must have found a solution that will accommodate the grievances of the No voters, or decide not to ratify the treaty.

“Time is short,” Rutte told journalists at his weekly press conference on Friday. “I wasn't optimistic before, and to be honest, I still am not optimistic.”

The Dutch government is aiming to agree a legally binding declaration with EU member states and Ukraine that would reassure some concerns No voters had expressed in the campaign, for example: that the association agreement gives no guarantee for Ukraine to become an EU member.

“The contacts I have had with colleagues abroad give me the confidence that we can reach a deal with Kiev and in Brussels,” he said. “The most important question for now, is if such a potential result would be met with sufficient parliamentary support in the Netherlands?"

While the current pragmatic coalition of centre-left and centre-right has a majority in the Dutch Lower House, it lacks a majority in the senate.

The Dutch leader tried to appeal to opposition parties by emphasising geopolitical factors, referring to Russia's assertive foreign policy in eastern Europe and Syria.

“Our national 'No' cannot be seen separately from the international reality,” he said, noting that if the Ukraine treaty were not to go into full force that it would “increase the risk of instability in the region”.

Rutte said it was important that Europe stood united.

“Our unity is the best answer to Russia's foreign policy, which is leading to destabilisation at Europe's borders.”

“This is bigger than just the Netherlands. Much bigger. We are as a country part of a broader, international community,” he said.

The Dutch rooting for a No in the Ukraine referendum

Next week, the Dutch will cast their opinion on the EU-Ukraine association agreement. While the Yes side is fairly uniform in its composition and logic, the No side is a motley crew. Who are they?

Dutch MPs extend deadline on Ukraine deal

Parliament gives prime minister Mark Rutte until mid-December to find a compromise that takes into account voters' rejection of an EU-Ukraine trade deal.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Opinion

Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

The foreign affairs minister of Haiti calls for the replacement EU-Africa, Caribbean, Pacific 'Cotonou' agreement of 2000 to be updated to take account climate change, infrastructure and tourism to help the country transition away from aid-dependence.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us