Tuesday

25th Jul 2017

EU close to face-saving deal on Ukraine

  • EU flags at the pro-Western Maidan revolution in Ukraine in 2014 (Photo: mac_ivan)

EU states are close to a face-saving deal on the Netherlands and Ukraine and have a “consensus” on the roll-over of Russia sanctions, diplomats say.

The Dutch problem is to be discussed by EU leaders at a lunch during Thursday’s (15 December) summit in Brussels.

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.

  • Rutte (l) needs an EU deal that will get through the Dutch parliament (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The Netherlands froze ratification of an EU treaty designed to align Ukraine’s economy with the West after a non-binding referendum against the move in April.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s proposed solution is to attach a one-and-a-half page statement to the EU-Ukraine accord to assuage Dutch voters’ concerns.

The draft text was discussed by diplomats on Monday in what one EU source said was a meeting with “a lot of emotions and tensions”.

A second EU source said the Dutch statement was to have three main points: “That the [EU-Ukraine] agreement doesn’t give Ukraine the status of a candidate country for accession; that it doesn’t grant Ukrainian nationals access to the EU labour market; [and that there is] no [EU] obligation to provide security guarantees, military aid or assistance to Ukraine”.

By Wednesday, diplomats reported “good progress” on a statement that was to be “very dry, legalistic, [and] factual”, however.

“There is much good will around the table, including from the most fervent friends of Ukraine. It's about saving the agreement and its ratification,” a senior EU diplomat said.

He said Rutte’s demands were “no problem”, even though it remained to be seen if the Dutch parliament would agree.

The EU diplomat also said the Dutch statement would not alter the content of the Ukraine treaty because the treaty had not promised Ukrainian enlargement in the first place.

“The decision [statement] is a tautology, but it’s politically needed to reassure those in the Netherlands and in Europe who see premises [in the EU-Ukraine pact] of something that could lead to Ukraine's EU accession”, he said.

An EU source said that Rutte, like the other 27 EU leaders, recognised the “geopolitical importance” of the Ukraine accord.

The source said that the collapse of the Ukraine treaty would be a “victory” for Russia, which was trying to keep Ukraine in its old sphere of influence.

Russia sanctions

The EU summit is also expected to see French president Francois Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel recommend a roll-over of economic sanctions against Russia.

An EU diplomat said there was a “consensus” that the sanctions should be extended for six months because Russia had not complied with a ceasefire pact.

The so-called Minsk pact is designed to stop Russian-controlled forces from waging war in east Ukraine.

Diplomats said there would be no political debate on Russia on Thursday and that the sanctions decision would be taken “quickly”.

One EU source added that Russia’s actions in Syria, where it stands accused of targeting civilians, a war crime, was “not an element in its favour” on Ukraine either.

The US has also urged the EU to maintain sanctions.

Das Yee, a senior US diplomat dealing with Europe, said in Brussels on Wednesday that “we welcome the fact, the likely outcome of this [EU] decision to roll over”.

He said the principle at stake was the inviolability of borders in post-Cold War Europe and that “if this principle can be violated with impunity, then it would be very difficult to prevent future occurrences”.

The US president-elect, Donald Trump, has said he wanted to mend ties with Russia, but Yee said that America’s fundamental interest, of maintaining stability in Europe, was “not going to change”.

Malign influence

The Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine treaty in April was marked by a Russian media campaign to sway public opinion in the Netherlands.

US, British, and German spy chiefs recently also warned that Russia was using propaganda and cyberattacks to sway election results in America and in Europe.

Yee said that the US and the EU had been monitoring the threat of Russia’s “malign influence” for the past two years.

He said that attempts to sway elections, mentioning also a Russia-linked plot to sway a vote in Montenegro in October, violated post-Cold War principles on respect for sovereignty.

He said EU states should “push back” against Russia by making public more information on the “sources” of disinformation campaigns.

“Attempts to influence elections, our elections, or in Montenegro have added to the growing body of evidence that we need to act,” the US diplomat said.

Interview

Russia 'not so strong' inside EU as feared

Germany’s former spy chief has said Russian propaganda was failing to make an impact in Europe and that Russian intelligence was weaker than imagined.

Dutch PM clinches deal on Ukraine treaty

EU leaders agreed on a text that clarifies what is in, and what is not in the EU-Ukraine association agreement. But Mark Rutte noted he has no guarantee Dutch parliament will support the deal.

Journalists on trial highlights Turkey's crackdown

The trial, which opened Monday, of 17 journalists and administrative employees of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet is considered one of the most important episodes in a systematic campaign to silence dissent.

Opinion

Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

The EU’s apparent willingness to water down its stance on human rights in Egypt could seriously compromise its credibility and have far-reaching consequences for its relations with other countries in the region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. US votes on sanctions against EU firms in Russia project
  2. Journalists on trial highlights Turkey's crackdown
  3. EU to give research tips on dual food quality
  4. Polish president's veto leaves uncertainties over next move
  5. EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto
  6. UK presses the Brexit pause button
  7. German car cartel case may take long time to prove
  8. Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  3. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  5. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  7. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  8. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  9. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  10. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  11. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices