Europe News

Dutch Referendum: ‘No’ To Ukraine-European Union Treaty

Almost two-thirds of Dutch voters in a referendum rejected a two-year old European Union treaty with Ukraine, forcing the government to reconsider its support of the treaty.

Almost two-thirds of Dutch voters have rejected a two-year old European Union treaty with the Ukraine in a referendum on Wednesday, according to Dutch news agency ANP.

61.1 percent voted against the Netherlands ratifying the treaty, 38.1 percent voted ‘Yes’.

The total voter turnout was around 32.2 percent, which means the government has to reconsider its support of the treaty in light of the public vote. The referendum had to draw at least 30 percent support to have any legal weight.

Although the referendum had an advisory status and was not binding on the government, prime minister Mark Rutte said, “It’s clear that ‘No’ have won by an overwhelming margin.”

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte casts his vote in the referendum in The Hague. Photograph: Bart Maat/AFP/Getty Images
Dutch prime minister casts his vote in the referendum in The Hague (Bart Maat/AFP/Getty Images)

“With such a large margin of victory for the ‘No’ camp, my sense is that ratification can’t simply go ahead,” he added.

That sentiment was shared by Diederik Samsom, leader of the Labour Party, the junior partner in the governing coalition. “We can’t ratify the treaty in this fashion,” he said.

Thierry Baudet of the Forum for Democracy, one of the initiators of the referendum, said the results cannot be ignored.” This is the start of a discussion about a different E.U.,” he said.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, said his country would continue moving towards the E.U. despite the Dutch vote. “Under any circumstances we will continue to implement the association agreement with the European Union including a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement,” Poroshenko told reporters in Tokyo.

In a Tweet, Russian PM Medvedev called the results “an indicator of European attitudes to the Ukrainian political system.”

The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement is a treaty between the E.U. and Ukraine on political, economic and a broad range of legislation and regulation topics. The E.U. has similar agreements with Turkey, Chile and Morocco, and a number of other countries.

The Netherlands is the only country in the 28-nation E.U. that still has to ratify the agreement.

(Main image: Sebastiaan ter Burg)

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