Friday

16th Nov 2018

Dutch need deal on Ukraine at summit, Rutte threatens

  • Rutte wants to walk away with a "legally binding" text (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has reminded fellow EU leaders via a newspaper interview that they need to find a deal on the EU-Ukraine trade and political agreement next week, or the Dutch will not ratify it.

Rutte told the Financial Times he needed to come home from the EU summit in Brussels with a “legally binding” declaration in his pocket, that says the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will not automatically lead to the eastern European country becoming an EU member.

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

Another demand is that the treaty will not lead to the Netherlands getting militarily involved in Ukraine.

“If we do not get this we will put a law to parliament the next day, which will state that we will not ratify the association agreement,” Rutte said in an interview published on Friday (9 December).

The Dutch demand to add a declaration to the treaty, which Rutte and other EU leaders signed in March 2014 and which was ratified by all other member states, stems from the results of Dutch citizens-enforced referendum earlier this year.

The April referendum was triggered by the use of a new law, which gives citizens the right to cast their vote over any bill passed in parliament, if they gathered enough signatures.

The referendum asked if voters supported the bill that calls on the government to ratify the EU-Ukraine treaty.

While Rutte's government legally could have ignored the non-binding vote, the political establishment had committed to acting on the outcome if more than 30 percent of voters showed up.

The No side won unambiguously with 61.1 percent. Voter turnout was 32.2 percent.

Following the political blow, Rutte set out to find a “solution."

He did not want to flat-out declare the Netherlands would not ratify – as many in the No camp wanted – but instead looked for a third way: to ratify while accommodating the “grievances” of the No side.

An attached declaration to the treaty is his preferred alternative, similar to the Irish declaration that convinced Irish voters in 2009 to support the Lisbon Treaty, after having rejected it in a referendum first.

When EU leaders meet next Thursday (15 December) in Brussels, the Dutch question will be on the agenda.

So far, the “situation in the Netherlands in the context of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement” is grouped under the point external relations, where the other topic of debate is Russia.

This fits with how Rutte recently framed his attempt to find a third way: the Netherlands needs to ratify to show Russia Europe is united.

“The reason I am fighting for this is that I am absolutely convinced that Europe must be unified now towards Russia’s foreign policy,” Rutte told the FT.

“I am asking for quite a lot,” he added.

The summit takes place exactly three months before the Dutch go to the polls to elect a new parliament.

Rutte's pragmatic coalition of his centre-right Liberal party and the centre-left Labour party are expected to lose their majority.

The far right party of anti-EU politician Geert Wilders are expected to do well. In the past month, several other anti-establishment parties have grown out of the discontent of what they see as Rutte's delay on following up on the referendum.

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.

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.

Opinion

Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?

Make no mistake – Rutte, sometimes considered as a potential candidate to succeed Donald Tusk, is one of the toughest of the EU's current heads of state.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  2. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  3. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  4. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  5. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  6. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  7. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  8. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  2. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  3. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  4. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  5. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  6. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  7. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  8. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us