Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

EU awaits Dutch response to referendum result

  • EU council president Donald Tusk (r) is also waiting for a solution from the Dutch PM Mark Rutte (l) on dealing with the referendum outcome (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The European Commission said Thursday (7 April) it is up to the Dutch government to decide on the next step after Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the ratification of an association agreement with Ukraine in a referendum on Wednesday.

"The European Commission takes note of the outcome of the referendum," the EU executive's spokesman Margaritis Schinas told journalists.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

"Under Dutch national law this is a consultative referendum and internal procedure of ratification are a matter of national competence," he said.

"It is therefore first and foremost for the government of Netherland to analyse the outcome and decide on the course of action," he added.

He said that the commission's president Jean-Claude Juncker talked "at length" with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte over the phone on Wednesday night, without revealing any details.

Asked how Juncker feels about the result, the spokesman said: "The president est triste [is sad]."

In January, Juncker warned that a win for the No could lead to a "continental crisis" and that Russia would "pluck the fruits" of rejecting the pact.

But on Thursday, most EU leaders remained silent on the political impact of the Dutch vote.

The commission's spokesman claimed there was no link with the upcoming referendum on EU membership in the UK: "These are two different processes," he insisted.

Regardless of the referendum results, the commission is still planning to put forward a visa liberalisation proposal for Ukraine.

European Council president Donald Tusk also said the bloc would wait to hear what the Dutch government will propose. "I have taken note of the reported outcome of the referendum in the Netherlands," he said.

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite stood out as the only EU leader to make a strong statement.

"We all wished they [the results] were different. However, now is not the time to lose hope or question Ukraine's European choice. No one can stand in the way of Ukraine's path to Europe," she said.

Political group leaders in the European Parliament also reacted strongly, warning that the Dutch No vote was yet another sign of people’s disillusionment with the EU.

Manfred Weber, leader of the center-right European People's Party, the biggest group, told German radio that it was a "big defeat" for the Dutch government and should be taken seriously.

"We need to make Europe more democratic and transparent," Weber said, adding that backroom politics in Brussels needed to end.

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said he was not surprised by the outcome. "Europe is not capable of dealing with the big crises we face. We can only solve this by working more closely together and reform Europe. It is time for another way for Europe," he said in a statement.

Provisional application continues

The EU-Ukraine agreement was signed in 2014 and has been ratified by 27 member states, by the European Parliament, and by Ukraine.

The agreement is being provisionally applied on the basis of a unanimous decision by the leaders of all 28 EU countries.

EU sources said the provisional application does not change because of the referendum and that implementation of the agreement continues.

Sources pointed out that there was no deadline for the Dutch government to come up with a solution, and noted that other association agreements had previously been provisionally applied for years, as ratification can take a long time.

The Dutch government said in a statement on Thursday that its national "ratification cannot just proceed as if nothing happened."

The statement added that it will take time to reach a solution acceptable to everyone.

Options could inculde drafting an exemption for the Netherlands.

But the result could have negative consequences for the fragile Dutch government coalition between liberals and social-democrats, even as the country holds the rotating EU presidency.

Column / Crude World

Why the Dutch referendum on Ukraine is a joke

If the organisers of Wednesday's referendum don't care about Ukraine, the Dutch government should give them what they ask for and ignore the results.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights