3 in 4 of the Dutch voters opposed to the ratification of the EU’s association agreement with Kiev. These are results of a survey conducted in the Netherlands.
The Dutch television EenVandaag released the results from the poll on Saturday. The survey comes ahead of a public referendum on the issue on April 6, triggered by a petition signed by 450,000 people, which forces the government to put the issue on a referendum.
It turns out that the majority of the Dutch population are strongly against this agreement- over 50 percent said they would ‘definitely’ vote against the agreement, and another 25 percent said that they were ‘likely’ to reject it. The results also report that over 50 percent will go to the poll and another 17 percent will most likely go to express their right to vote.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed an opinion and urging the Dutch people ‘’not to say ‘no’’’. He hopes on this turn out “for reasons that have nothing to do with the treaty itself,” expressing hope that is will not turn “into a referendum on Europe.”
“I have no criticism of the political system in the Netherlands, or on this opportunity to speak out, but I am saying: watch out, this could change the balance in Europe,” Juncker said. “So the Dutch voter must act on April 6 as a European strategist.”
“The Netherlands is an important country, and if people in the Netherlands are voting against a thing like this, then it doesn’t suggest that after all the years we’ve been hearing about how important Ukraine is, the people in western Europe are really supportive of Ukraine at all,” legal expert and international affairs editor for Russia Insider, Alexander Mercouris told RT.
In order for the agreement to become permanent, it needs to be ratified by all of the 28 member states of the European Union. The agreement with the block provisionally came into effect on January 1.
The agreement aims for free trading between Ukraine and the EU, with both sides agreeing to open their markets and remove tariffs on goods. The deal also considers enhances cooperation in the areas of foreign security policy.
“My guess is that people in the Netherlands are opposed more to the EU expansion, which leads to more immigration into Western Europe from Eastern Europe. And they don’t want thousands upon thousands of people coming from Ukraine… One of the reasons why people in Ukraine have wanted it [the agreement], is precisely because that’s exactly what they want to do,” Mercouris said.
While Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has called the agreement “a first step towards EU membership,” it is not mentioned in the deal. The introduction of a visa-free travel regime is also not specified in the document, and the freedom of employment which is only available to full EU member states is also off the table.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is already having troubles with the free trade zone agreement with Moscow since Vladimir Putin put a food embargo as an counteract against its sanctions. Additionally, he signed a decree to protect Russian markets from uncontrolled re-exports of European goods via Ukraine.