Sunday

30th Apr 2017

Dutch PM clinches deal on Ukraine treaty

  • Rutte (c) convinced his colleagues to support a text that clarifies the EU-Ukraine association agreement (Photo: Consillium)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte reached a deal on Thursday (15 December) with his 27 EU colleagues about the EU-Ukraine treaty, but stressed he cannot guarantee Dutch parliament will support the outcome.

“There is a legally binding document on the table, which addresses all the Dutch points,” Rutte told journalists in Brussels.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The text is aimed at quelling misgivings Dutch voters had over the EU-Ukraine association agreement, signed in 2014.

The treaty was rejected with a broad majority in April, and although the vote was non-binding, Rutte wanted to find a third way beyond his options of ratifying or binning the treaty.

The binding text, a decision of the EU heads of state and government, "clearly states what is and what is not in the treaty", said Rutte.

The text says the Ukraine agreement “does not confer on Ukraine the status of a candidate country for accession to the Union, nor does it constitute a commitment to confer such status to Ukraine in the future.”

It also states the treaty “does not contain an obligation” for member states to provide Ukraine military assistance, or obliges EU countries to give “additional financial support”.

The treaty also does not give Ukrainians the right to work in the EU, Thursday's text clarifies. It also says the “fight against corruption is central to enhancing the relationship” between the EU and Ukraine.

Rutte said it somewhat more direct: “Ukraine has to work hard” to fight corruption.

Not fun

The Dutch leader said the negotiation process since the referendum was “not fun, but necessary”. Rutte was “grateful” for the cooperation of his 27 colleagues, although he noted that he would have wished to wrap up negotiations earlier.

“This took too long. Partly because due to Brexit no one wanted to talk about this in the first few months,” he said.

Although a draft Monday text had not been changed, the discussion was still long.

“Nobody is happy with this piece of paper,” said one EU official.

“The problem is that it will be used by Russian trolls and enemies of Ukraine,” he said.

No guarantees for parliamentary majority

Rutte said he would propose ratification at Friday's weekly cabinet meeting.

But when asked which guarantees he could give the other member states that the Dutch parliament will also approve the deal, he said: “None.”

The centre-right Liberal leader needs the consent from at least two opposition parties, because his coalition lacks a majority in the Senate.

Three months before national elections, parties are not exactly exuberant at the prospect of going against the wishes of a majority, even if the voter turnout of the non-binding referendum was 32.2 percent.

Rutte also said he understood “this is not a vote winner”, but that a rejection of the Ukraine treaty would have been a “gift to Russia”.

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?

EU close to face-saving deal on Ukraine

Dutch PM Rutte seeks solution to the No vote on EU-Ukraine treaty. Meanwhile, diplomats say there is a “consensus” on the roll-over of Russia sanctions.

Aleppo's fate overshadows EU summit

EU leaders called for evacuations and aid, but admitted "we have to stand there watching", as Syrian regime, Russia, and Iran committed what some called "war crimes".

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual