Sunday

28th Nov 2021

Dutch MPs extend deadline on Ukraine deal

  • Rutte (c) will try to find a way to ratify the EU-Ukraine deal (Photo: Consillium)

A majority in the Dutch parliament has given prime minister Mark Rutte more time to negotiate with his European counterparts on how to accommodate a popular rejection of an EU-Ukraine treaty.

MPs said on Tuesday (8 November) they would give Rutte until after an EU summit in Brussels in mid-December to find a solution.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Initially, Rutte had been given a 1 November deadline by MPs.

But Rutte's centre-right Liberals, his coalition partner Labour, and several smaller parties gave him extra time. Opposition MP Kees Verhoeven said he had supported the motion “grudgingly”.

In April, the EU-Ukraine association agreement was rejected in a Dutch referendum with 61.1 percent of the votes.

The vote was non-binding, but because the voter turnout of 32.2 percent surpassed a required threshold of 30 percent, the Dutch political establishment promised to somehow take the results into account.

Officially, the Dutch voted to reject the parliament bill that would lead to ratification of the treaty, which has now been put on hold. All other 27 member states have ratified the deal.

Rutte will seek a legally binding declaration from his EU counterparts explaining the details of the deal.

The idea is that such a declaration would quell some of the "grievances" the No voters had, so that ratification can go ahead.

The declaration could include a statement that the trade treaty will not automatically give the Ukraine access to EU membership, or that the Netherlands could opt out of military cooperation with Ukraine.

Following a potential deal at the 15-16 December summit, Rutte would then try to get parliamentary approval to ratify the treaty against the will of the No voters.

Legally, Rutte could have already ignored the referendum result and ratify the treaty. Politically, he wants as many political parties on his side to make the unpopular move, four months before national elections.

At Tuesday's debate in parliament, several opposition parties pointed out that the referendum outcome was clear, and that the treaty should not be ratified.

But Rutte repeated that Europe should show unity in the fact of an aggressive Russian foreign policy. He conceded that he should have used the “geopolitical argument” more during the campaign ahead of the referendum.

The Dutch leader also admitted that a policy response to the No vote, which took place seven months ago, was taking too long.

“We could have worked faster,” Rutte 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?

Little to celebrate at EU-Ukraine summit

EU leaders have pledged to uphold sanctions on Russia in the run-up to a summit this week, but the declaration comes amid multiplying uncertainties on future ties.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us