Dutch PM Rutte to demand that EU limits Ukraine deal: report
Prime Minister Mark Rutte plans to ask the EU leaders to put limits on he association agreement with the Ukraine at a EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Reuters reports based on information from diplomatic sources.
A Dutch drafted document, which Reuters caught sight off, states that the Netherlands wants to make it clear that this association agreement is not a "stepping stone" for the Ukraine to become a member of the European Union.
It also explicitly states that the agreement "does not contain an obligation for the Union or its member states to provide collective security guarantees or other military aid or assistance to Ukraine". It also does not require additional financial support from the EU. These are not specifically promised to the Ukraine in the association agreement, but the Dutch want to explicitly rule them out.
With this further attempt for a compromise, Rutte is trying to free himself from a political bind caused by Dutch voters voting against the agreement in a referendum in April. The Netherlands is the only EU country that has not ratified the agreement - which is aimed at creating stronger political ties between the EU and Ukraine, and gradually freeing the Ukraine from Russia's orbit, according to Reuters.
Rutte hopes that this compromise, should the other EU member states agree to it, will ease the concerns of the Dutch voters, while still enabling the Netherlands to ratify the agreement. Should the EU member states accept the compromise, Rutte still has to pass it through the Dutch parliament, where the association agreement with the Ukraine does not have majority support.
According to Reuters, the expectation is that the EU will accept Rutte's plan, despite a number of governments being irritated by the Dutch demands. "The stakes are high", one Diplomat said to the news wire. "At the end of the day, if the association agreement is not ratified by the Dutch, it will be a defeat for Ukraine, a defeat for the EU and a victory for Russia." Another diplomat added that these demands are "expensive, but worth it. At this stage, it's either this or nothing."
Rutte's previous attempts to compromise on the Ukraine deal were met with little enthusiasm. The Dutch parliament set the government a deadline for November 1st to come up with a solution on what to do about the association agreement and the no vote in the Ukraine referendum. Needless to say, the Dutch government failed to meet that deadline, asking for more time on October 31st.