Dutch reject EU-Ukraine deal
Turnout passed threshold needed to send deal back to parliament.
Euroskeptic MEP Nigel Farage, leader of the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party, tweeted his support for the result, saying that he had spoken to the organizers of the petition that led to the Dutch referendum and invited them to the U.K. to discuss Brexit.
Nigel Farage: "Dutch exit polls seem to indicate big No to EU vote. Hooray!"
“If the Dutch people vote No today, it will be an incentive for the British voters to say no,” Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders said.
Although the result of the referendum is non-binding, Dutch law says that a No vote, combined with a turnout of more than 30 percent, would mean the deal having to be discussed again by parliament.
“We will have to wait and see but it is clear that the No voters won convincingly. The question is whether or not the required turnout will be met,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised reaction.
“My view is that if the turnout is more than 30 percent, with such a victory for the No camp, ratification cannot go ahead without discussion.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday that Ukraine will expand its cooperation with the EU, despite the Dutch rejection.
Poroshenko said that the organizers wanted to “challenge the power of the EU, not the association agreement with Ukraine”, NOS reports. He said the result was “an attack on the unity of Europe and the spread of European values.”
The deal — officially an “association agreement” — which aims at improving trade between the EU and Ukraine, provisionally came into force on January 1, but needs to be ratified by all 28 EU members. The Dutch parliament has already backed the deal.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, was quick to take to Twitter after polling finished, saying the result was “great” and hoping that the turnout passed the 30 percent mark.
“It looks like the Dutch people said NO to the European elite and NO to the treaty with the Ukraine”, he said. “The beginning of the end of the EU”.
Emile Roemer, leader of the Socialist Party, said: “I am happy with the result. People wanted to tell the government that Ukraine is too corrupt to sign an agreement with. They also wanted to show that Europe is only there for the elite and multinationals.”
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal D66 party, which supported the deal, said: “I had hoped that the Yes and No vote would have been more tied.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that a Dutch No vote could lead to a “continental crisis.”
“I want the Dutch to understand that the importance of this question goes beyond the Netherlands,” the newspaper NRC quoted Juncker as saying in January.
“I don’t believe the Dutch will say no, because it would open the door to a big continental crisis,” he said. “Russia would pluck the fruits of an easy victory.