Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

Opinion

Open letter to president Juncker on the Dutch Ukraine vote

  • Juncker (l) with Dutch prime minister Rutte (r) (Photo: European Commission)

Dear Mr President,

On 6 April a referendum will be held in the Netherlands on the Association Agreement of the European Union and Ukraine. Although this referendum is not binding, an unambiguous outcome could hardly be ignored.

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.

Last month you said in an interview in one of the Dutch newspapers that a ‘no’ vote in the Netherlands could “open the door to a major continental crisis”. You therefore recommended to the Dutch voters to express themselves in favour of this Agreement.

Though many voters will approve of the Association Agreement itself – given the bilateral advantages – there is a fear in the Netherlands that this Agreement will be a first step towards full EU-membership of Ukraine.

In fact, the Association Agreement does not provide for future EU-membership of Ukraine and the preamble states that “this Agreement will not prejudice and leaves open future developments in EU-Ukraine relations”.

In practice, however, an Association Agreement or another partnership with a European country is often a step towards candidate membership and subsequent membership.

Past experience shows that the Union often swiftly decides to enlarge, mostly without consulting the voters. It starts with a promise and before very long, the promises made and the expectations raised make it almost impossible for the Union to back out. There are many examples. This explains the fear of many Dutch voters and the resistance to voting in favour of this Agreement.

It would therefore be helpful if this – in my view justified – fear could be removed as much as possible by an explicit declaration of the European Commission and of the Council that this Agreement is not a first step towards EU membership and that before any country is offered the prospect of membership, voters should and will be asked to express themselves first in the next elections for the European Parliament.

If such a declaration could be made, we can plainly declare ourselves in favour of the Agreement and Dutch voters will hardly have any reason to vote against the Agreement any longer.

If you are serious about what you said in the abovementioned interview, it would be helpful if you were to ensure that the Commission and the Council make such a statement well before the referendum.

Yours sincerely,

Sammy van Tuyll

Chairman Liberal Democratic Party in the Netherlands

Dutch PM takes back seat on Ukraine vote

Dutch leader Rutte will not defend Yes vote "with flyers and flags and the like", despite polls showing the No camp could sink the Ukraine pact, in echoes of 2005.

Column / Crude World

Nordstream 2: Alternative pipeline facts

Arguments put forward by Nord Stream 2's Brussels lobbyist in defence of the Russian-led project are not consistent and ignore some basic facts.

News in Brief

  1. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms
  2. EU commission denies Juncker resignation rumour
  3. US "strongly committed" to cooperation with EU, says vice-president
  4. Wilders pulls out of second Dutch election TV debate
  5. Russia to recognise passports from breakaway Ukraine regions
  6. Pro-refugee marchers swarm through Barcelona
  7. Renzi seeks party's support
  8. EU probes China-funded rail project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty