The Netherlands wants to sign Ukraine deal

The Dutch government plans to ratify the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine despite the vote against the deal in a referendum last April. To this end Prime Minister Mark Rutte agreed with EU leaders on an addendum to the agreement stipulating that Ukraine will not be given prospects of EU membership. The reaction of the Dutch press is divided.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Ukraine deal meets naysayers halfway

The negotiated addendum to the EU-Ukraine association agreement takes the demands of those who oppose the deal seriously, NRC Handelsblad comments approvingly:

“Naturally the addendum can be dismissed as just clever trick. The organisers of the referendum have already said this. 'No means no', was their simple reaction. … It's true that the addendum is partly cosmetic because the points it refers to [Ukraine's prospects of joining the EU] are not even mentioned in the main part of the agreement. But because it has all been written down in a legally binding declaration the cabinet can rightly claim that many of the naysaysers' objections no longer apply. Now it just needs the support of the Dutch parliament.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Rutte discrediting himself

It is unlikely that Rutte will be able to win the support of those who oppose the EU-Ukraine association agreement, De Telegraaf contends:

“Rutte will lose credit with voters over the Ukraine deal, but he's willing to accept this. … In his view the interests at stake were simply too big to sweep them off the table and he pointed his finger at Russia here. … This change of course comes late. In the election campaign before the referendum Rutte stressed that the agreement should be put into force above all for trade reasons. … With his new tactic the leader of the [right-liberal] VVD is raising suspicions that he wants to box through the agreement at any cost. … His arguments won't convince his opponents.”