Thursday 19 September 2019

Brussels to press on with Ukraine visa plan despite Dutch ‘no’

Photo: Europa.eu

Photo: Europa.eu

The European Commission will propose this month granting visa-free travel to Ukrainians despite last week’s Dutch referendum ‘no’ vote, a ‘senior EU official’ has told Reuters news agency.

Reuters says commission president Jean-Claude Juncker promised Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko the EU executive would put forward the proposal in April.

‘It may look as if we’re ignoring the Dutch voters, but we have to keep our word to Ukraine, which has met the conditions,’ the source told Reuters.

In last week’s referendum, the Dutch voted by almost 62% to reject the treaty of association between the EU and Ukraine. Turnout was just 32% but that is above the 30% threshold requiring the government to ‘look again’ at the treaty.

Although the referendum is advisory and not binding on the government, prime minister Mark Rutte said after the vote the Netherlands can no longer ratify the treaty ‘just like that’.

What happens next will have to be looked at ‘step by step’, the prime minister said. Ministers will talk to parliament and to the country’s European partners before deciding what to do next, he said.

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