Voting “no” on Ukraine a “disgrace for the Netherlands” says Van Rompuy

Herman van Rompuy (Photo: European People's Party/Wikimedia Commons)Herman van Rompuy (Photo: European People's Party/Wikimedia Commons)

A "no" vote in the referendum on the association agreement between the European Union and the Ukraine in April, would be a "disgrace" for the Dutch government, according to former Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy in an interview with Dutch newspaper Trouw.

Van Rompuy was very closely involved in making the association agreement during his time as president of the European Council. He points out that the Dutch government and parliament already agreed to the Association Agreement. A majority of the population voting no "would make the Netherlands a less reliable partner". According to him, foreign partners will always know that there is a risk of the agreement made with the Dutch government can easily be taken back.

He worries that the Dutch government will not be able to make any effective foreign policy if it and foreign partners always have to take a referendum into account. "There were debates about this association agreement in the Netherlands. The parliament took its responsibility. Will there soon be a referendum on TTIP, the US-EU free trade agreement? Then it could become difficult to get Dutch signatures."

Van Rompuy also spoke out against the argument of the camp against the association agreement that the agreement is a step towards the Ukraine's EU membership. "The agreement is definitely not the start of a membership. This was explicitly discussed. The Ukrainians insisted on it a number of times. We never yielded on that."