Dutch referendum to affect future of EU-Ukraine pact

Netherlands plans to vote in national referendum on EU-Ukraine Association Agreement after Dutch website collects more than 400,000 signatures

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy (R) and acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, exchange documents during the signing of the political provisions of the Association Agreement with Ukraine in Brussels on March 21, 2014

A Dutch satirical website managed to collect enough signatures and  opens the way for a national referendum concerning the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement signed last year, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Dutch Electoral Council said that the website had collected 420,000 signatures, more than the 300,000 needed for a referendum to take place.

Although the vote will not be binding on the Dutch government, a “no” vote will definitely cause a reevaluation in the Netherlands.

"The established pro-European parties would be well-advised to take this [referendum] very seriously," professor Rudy Andeweg, a senior political lecturer at Leiden University, told the AFP.

The results could disrupt or strengthen the ties between EU and Ukraine, while Moscow considers the EU-Ukraine pact as a challenge to Russian interests.

The Dutch have already approved the agreement along with 21 other EU governments, which requires all signatures of 28 member states for it to be implemented.

The deal is a treaty among the EU, the European Atomic Energy Community (Eurotom) and Ukraine that will form a political and economic co-operation between the parties.

The results of the vote, which is likely to take place in the next six months, is expected to be influenced by last year's missile strike that was fired over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The strike took the lives of 298 people including 193 Dutch citizens.

There are also concerns that the pact will be a step forward to Ukraine's EU membership, thereby leading the Netherlands to side with Ukraine as the country’s conflict with Russia continues.

TRTWorld and agencies