Friday

18th Aug 2017

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”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

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. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides