Saturday 22 January 2022

Dutch may ratify Ukraine treaty; separate declaration offers way out of impasse



A declaration by the Netherlands stating how it interprets the EU’s treaty with Ukraine offers a way out of the current impasse following the Dutch no vote, the NRC said on Monday

The Netherlands rejected the treaty with the former Soviet state in a referendum in April. Even though the vote is non-binding and turnout was just 32%, prime minister Mark Rutte has promised to ‘do justice’ to the outcome.

With time for a negotiated agreement now running out, Rutte now hopes to use a similar construction to Ireland after it rejected the Lisbon treaty in 2009, the NRC said.

In a briefing to parliament, Rutte and foreign minister Bert Koenders say they are looking to realise ‘a legally-binding solution, approved by European leaders’.

The declaration would state that that the Ukraine treaty is not a stepping stone to Ukraine joining the EU and that Ukraine nationals do not have access to the European labour market. The declaration should also make it clear that there will be no military alliance with Ukraine and no financial support. Efforts must also be made to combat corruption.

On Friday Rutte made a dramatic appeal to opposition parties for their support. If the Netherlands fails to ratify the treaty, it could have serious implications for the stability of Europe, the prime minister said.


Over the past few days, ministers have had intensive discussions with opposition parties in an effort to win their backing for the government’s position, and to win majority support in the senate for the declaration.

‘Although no formal commitments have been made, the cabinet expects that such a solution can be realised,’ the prime minister said in his briefing to parliament. According to the NRC, the D66 liberal party and Christian Democrats have said they will support the government.

The aim is to have the declaration ready for final approval at the December 15 European summit.

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