Read the original text at eurointegration.com.ua.
Late last week a summit of European Union took place. There were many articles written about it in Ukraine, because EU leaders discussed the continuation of anti-Russian sanctions, and at the request of some countries have blocked new restrictions against Russia. Moreover, before it Berlin hosted the first summit in 2016, "Norman Quartet".
And by talking about Russia, Ukrainian equally important topic receded.
In Brussels, it was also discussed what to do with the results of the Dutch referendum on association. Premier Mark Rutte said, there are no chances of a compromise; everyone must just wait for the message from Hague to abandon ratification.
Will it happen? What will happen to the Association Agreement in this case? What are the threats to Ukraine?
Does the act of a free trade zone Ukraine and the EU, which was introduced as a temporary application of the Association Agreement? How long will this provisional application if the Netherlands refuse the agreement?
What happens in the Netherlands
There are barely no good news here.
Yes, we all know about the referendum that took place April 6. While skeptics won and held a referendum on not ratification of Association Agreement with Ukraine.
And this referendum, as repeatedly stated, was advisory. Mark Rutte Cabinet initially chose the tactics of delay. It could not last always: his first parliament, and later the European Union demanded from him at least some certainty.
One of the "reporting dates" was the end of last week. The question of Ukrainian association bore the EU summit. But without success.
Although initially it was planned that the Prime Minister will come to Brussels to the draft decision. There were even prepared two versions of the EU summit declaration, which would open the way to The Hague achieve ratification. Yes, Prime Minister of the Netherlands had rejected all the options. In fact, closing the path to ratification.
"He described the moods in his parliament. And the mood is such that none of its 2-3 proposals will be supported by Parliament. Rutte said that the opposition criticized his ideas, without offering anything in return," said one of the interlocutors.
In the Netherlands, Parliament put a deadline to solve Ukrainian issues - November 1, and you can be sure that the time is not found a solution that would satisfy Parliament. On the eve of elections held in the country for six months, Dutch politicians are with embraced populism. Prime Minister does not even support his faction, where about half of the deputies tend to not ratified the agreement with Ukraine.
As before, there are several scenarios; the most optimistic, and then pull prime time, leaving Agreement "suspended" at least until the change of government (that is until the summer of next year). The most pessimistic is that Parliament one way or another will approve the decision to cancel the ratification, withdrawal of the government ratification and officially notifies the Brussels agreement of Ukraine cannot be concluded.
Moreover Rutte insists that he is looking for peaceful ways "to resolve the crisis." At the closed part of the summit, he repeated his favorite phrase that his country has to buy "a pig in a poke", canceling association.
What happens with free trade
The Association Agreement is a document that is a very unusual for Ukraine rules. To explain the situation, which is now have to give some legal paragraphs calculations.
Our agreement with the EU is not in force, that legally it has not yet been concluded. Nevertheless, most of its articles are legally applicable. For the EU, this procedure is standard and works with many international agreements - Brussels may, without waiting for the decisions of national parliaments, to launch the so-called provisional application of international agreements.
This procedure is spelled out in the basic EU document - the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union st.218 (5). In the same article stated separately as this procedure should work for Association Agreements.
The Netherlands has agreed to run the provisional application of the Agreement. This is legally registered.
Decision on provisional application was voted by the EU Council, signed and published in September 2014. For its approval is required consensus - and, therefore, the Netherlands Government has put underneath the signature.
Recently, Ukrainian media heard the idea that the ultimate failure of ratification in the Netherlands would also stop provisional application. But is this a real danger? Can Hague withdraw its vote in support of this decision? Is it possible that the FTA will automatically stop after ratification? Fortunately, the answer to both questions is "no."
The Lisbon Treaty, i.e. a basic agreement on the principles of the EU gives member states the right to withdraw the vote in a decision which has already been approved and published. Such procedures do not exist. Even if the government changed its mind - late decision is valid.
Of course, canceling the agreement is possible - in this case the effect of the free trade area between Ukraine and the EU would be also interrupted. However, we emphasize this decision is not automatic.
So to stop the FTA with Ukraine at least two things are needed:
- Proposal Commission and / or the EU's foreign policy;
- The decision of the EU Council.
There is some uncertainty as to whether the necessary consensus for abolition FTA with Ukraine because art.218 involves misunderstandings about this. The author believes that qualified majority is enough to cancel the agreement with Ukraine. That idea should support 55% of the EU member states, which are home to 65% of the population.
And yet another reliable fuse is that the initiative of the European Commission or the foreign service is necessary to launch the procedure.
For the current composition of the European Commission probability that it will initiate a break with Ukraine is close to zero. And most importantly: the referendum in the Netherlands does not affect this process.
What happens next?
Therefore, the Association Agreement - at least part of the trade - will work in the future.
No wonder in April, immediately after the referendum, sounded the idea that while the referendum lost to Ukraine, its consequences will hit primarily by the EU itself.
Now Brussels is primarily concerned about the uncertainty the one that created the Netherlands. In fact, the referendum started a chain reaction - then member states one after another stop trigger other international agreements. France opposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), that the FTA between the EU and the US. Negotiations on TTIP are officially frozen.
And last week the same fate befell on the agreement with Canada - as you know, the signing of the document was blocked by protests Belgian region of Wallonia. In case of agreements with the US and Canada, the agreement stopped at earlier stages.
Ukraine is in luck that we passed our point of no return and the deal is essentially indemnified of cancellation. At least a part of the FTA.
Of course, this does not mean that Ukraine can relax and pay no attention that our Association Agreement is in "limbo" state.
Kyiv is also interested to complete ratification. Therefore, we are also engaged in talks, and recently Minister Klimkin has to fly to The Hague on this issue. At the moment, our interest is mostly political. And beyond that, no one can say about the next composition of the European Commission. Do not rule out that it will be less favorable for Ukraine.
After all, the Dutch government is not exactly pleased with the current situation; it is constantly forced to justify to Brussels for frozen Ukrainian deal.