Saturday 24 October 2020

No deal yet on Ukraine treaty, Dutch foreign minister says

Photo: Europa.eu

Photo: Europa.eu

The cabinet has not yet reached agreement with other EU states on a separate declaration to take away Dutch objections to the EU treaty with Ukraine, foreign minister Bert Koenders told parliament on Tuesday.

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 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.

Concept

On Monday, opposition MPs asked Koenders and Rutte to publish the concept agreement so that MPs can discuss it ahead of Thursday’s crucial summit.

‘There is no text which has been agreed on,’ Koenders said in his briefing. ‘Nor can we say if the Dutch position will be realised, given that a number of member states consider it to be far-reaching.’

International news agencies say agreement has been reached on some of the key points.

Rutte told the Financial Times last he needed a legally binding’ declaration in his pocket. ‘If we do not get this we will put a law to parliament the next day, which will state that we will not ratify the association agreement,’ Rutte said.

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