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19th Oct 2019

Dutch target June summit for talks on EU-Ukraine deal

  • Dutch PM Rutte (l) wants to discuss his voters' rejection of an EU-Ukraine treaty, but it will be EU Council chief Donald Tusk who will decide if it is put on the agenda (Photo: Council of the European Union)

[Updated 9 June at 11.20] The Dutch government wants to discuss its voters' rejection of the EU-Ukraine association agreement at an EU summit in Brussels in three weeks' time, foreign minister Bert Koenders has said.

“The government intends to discuss the association agreement and the result of the referendum at the upcoming European Council of 28 and 29 June,” he told members of the Dutch parliament in a letter on Tuesday (7 June).

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  • In April, 61.1 percent of Dutch voters who showed up at a referendum, rejected the deal (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Two months ago, 61.1 percent of voters who showed up at a national referendum on the trade and political deal voted No, leaving full ratification of the treaty in disarray. All other EU member states had already ratified the text.

Koenders said that the Netherlands had already spoken at EU level and in bilateral talks about the Dutch No, but “no agreements were made about the content or scope of a possible solution”.

Earlier, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte had said that he would not present a policy response to the No vote before the UK has had its referendum, about whether or not to stay a member of the bloc.

A week after the Dutch vote, Rutte said he felt that his European colleagues wanted the UK in-out referendum “out of the way first” before the Dutch referendum could be fully discussed.

If the British do vote to leave the EU, a large portion of the 28-28 June summit will certainly be devoted to that issue. Migration, the economy and cooperation with Nato are also on the agenda.

'Reasonable request'

While the Netherlands holds the rotating six-month EU presidency until the end of this month, it is EU Council president Donald Tusk who determines the agenda.

The Ukraine deal is currently not yet on the official draft agenda.

An EU official, who could not be named, told this website that it is "too early" to say if the outcome of the Dutch referendum would be put on the summit agenda, but that it "seems a reasonable request". However, the contact added that he found it unlikely that government leaders would make any policy decisions at the June summit.

This article was updated on Thursday 9 June to include comments from the EU official

Crucial summit: last EU-28 format?

The EU summit will be crucial for the future of the EU, but especially for the UK. The next EU summit will not be the same since the UK's withdrawal will have consequences for the power relations within the council.

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