Dutch referendum: consequences for Ukraine, the Netherlands,and EU

Author : 112.UA 112.UA

Why the inhabitants of the country of tulips did not give the green light to the European aspirations of the Ukrainians?
13:47, 8 April 2016

Citizens of the Netherlands voted against Ukraine's association with the EU on the advisory referendum. According to the exit poll, 61.1% of the Dutch voted "against", and 38.1% voted "for." According to the latest data, the turnout was 32.2%.

We offer to find out what would Eurosceptics’ victory result in, and why the inhabitants of the country of tulips did not give the green light to the European aspirations of the Ukrainians.

Why the Dutch voted against it?

On the eve of the plebiscite, Ukraine tried way to convince Van Gogh's compatriots to say “yes” to the association in every possible way: there were business forums and summits, and the flash mobs with a bike ride. However, it proved to be ineffective. According to People's Deputy Vadym Kryvenko, Ukraine is underdeveloped in terms of advocacy, while Russia, seeking to undermine the EU, has been working with the inhabitants of the kingdom for more than a year.

Related: Museum scandal between Ukraine and the Netherlands

Literally, offshore scandal erupted on the eve of the referendum. It had no decisive influence on the outcome of the referendum, but it created a negative background for everything that is connected with Ukraine. Those Dutch citizens who had some doubts, seeing the name of the President Poroshenko in the "Panamanian documents" could decide to vote against.

Related: European Commission: outcome of Dutch plebiscite won't harm implementation of Association Agreement

The vast majority of those who voted against, made this decision because of corruption in Ukraine (59%). There are also those who are not happy with the hypothetical Ukraine's membership in the EU, which is a step towards the Association. In addition, 31% said they do not share European values, and 30% believe that Association Agreement is unprofitable for Dutch economy. There were those who feared the deterioration of relations with Russia and could not forget the MH17 tragedy.

What awaits Ukraine?

The negative outcome of the referendum does not mean that the Association Agreement is canceled. It continues to operate, but at the same application mode, which was been launched on November 1, 2014. It provides the action of a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU, which came into force from the beginning of 2016.

The Cabinet of the Netherlands should now respond to the results of the plebiscite, by submitting to parliament a bill on confirmation of the Association Agreement. Political analyst Artem Stelmashov notes that the EU could take into account the discontent of the Dutch and offer two options for Ukraine.

"It is impossible just to ignore the opinion of the Dutch population. There is a variant that in Ukraine will act agreement with all EU countries except the Netherlands, or it will be divided into 2 parts; we will have an FTA (because this decision is be taken on a European level), but we will not cooperate with the Netherlands in the police field or in other branches," he explained.

Related: Groysman: Results of Dutch referendum – wake-up call for Ukraine

The first persons of Ukraine recognize that the outcome of the referendum, is not a victory, and not a disaster. President Poroshenko assured that it will not affect the European course of Ukraine, and speaker Greusman called to work on the mistakes.

What does this mean for the Netherlands?

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte has already announced consultations between the government, Parliament, and the European partners. According to him, it will take more than one week. The Commission will not take any steps, waiting for initiatives from the Dutch government, which currently has no room for error.

Cabinet of Rutte, who has publicly campaigned for the association will not be able to ignore the results of the plebiscite, because now he is rapidly losing popularity. In this case the rating of the main opponent of the current prime minister, leader of the Eurosceptics Geert Wilders, has reached a historic high.

Related: Referendum: 61,1% of Dutch voted against Ukraine-EU Association, - exit poll

Against the background of the results of the referendum in the Netherlands, we can expect a flourishing of political populism and the strengthening of the right and the left wing of the political spectrum, the Ukrainian diplomats say.

Rutte is already under pressure of political opponents of the Socialist Party. Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, a leader of the campaign against the agreement, is sure that the only way for the Government of the Kingdom might be the abolition of the Association Agreement.

What are the implications for the EU?

"It seems that the Dutch said "no" to the European elite, rather than contract with Ukraine. This is the beginning of the end of the EU," Wilders commented on the results of the referendum. He hoped that Eurosceptics will have their say in the UK, where a referendum will be held June 23, and other countries to follow this example.

Related: Dutch referendum: "Ukraine? We don’t care about it!"

German magazine Der Spiegel called the results of the referendum "a double blow to the European Union", and Ukrainian diplomats say, that the result of the vote called into question the ability of the EU treaty.

"The negotiations on association lasted more than the ratification - 7 or 8 years. So you are 7 or 8  years negotiating, all the countries agree to ratify, and then the Netherlands get up and say, you know, we've got a referendum, sorry, you need to return to back to the negotiations process," said Dmytro Kuleba, Strategic Communications Department of MFA of Ukraine.

European Commission President Jean-Clone Juncker has already said that he is sad because of the referendum, but he is assured that it would not influence the Association Agreement. According to him, the European Commission agrees to continue to develop its relations with Ukraine.

Political analysts agree that the EU will not compromise its authority and integrity, allowing the failure of the Association because of Netherlands. This means that Ukraine is still moving to Europe, albeit more slowly than expected. 

Related: MP: We show the Dutch that Ukrainians are Europeans, too

Related: Poroshenko: Rejection of the Netherlands – not an obstacle for Ukraine

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