: Dutch opposition urges government to honour EU-Ukraine 'No' vote

12:28 Apr. 14, 2016

Dutch opposition urges government to honour EU-Ukraine 'No' vote

Travelers pass through the concourse of Utrecht railway station as a Dutch Socialist Party campaign poster for the upcoming referendum for the EU-Ukraine trade and association pact displays the word 'Nee' or 'No', Netherlands, April 4,

In an April 6 referendum, nearly two-thirds of Dutch voters said "no" to the EU's association treaty on closer political, military and trade relations with Ukraine

Most Dutch opposition parties called on the government on Wednesday to respect the outcome of a non-binding referendum rejecting a treaty between the European Union and Ukraine, according to Reuters.

The Netherlands made the official results of the referendum public on April 12. As expected, they were not that different from the preliminary exit polls. 61% of citizens voted against the agreement with the turnout of 32%.

Although the vote was not binding, it reflected widespread discontent with EU policy in a founding member state ahead of Britain's June 23 vote on whether it should remain in the bloc.

Read also Legitimacy of referendum on EU-Ukraine trade deal in the Netherlands doubtful - Dutch lawyer

The treaty has been ratified by all 27 other EU countries and Ukraine itself. Both Dutch houses of parliament have already voted in favour of a law supporting the accord, and it has been signed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government.

But Rutte has said the Netherlands will not formally ratify the treaty - all 28 EU states must do so for all of its clauses to have full legal force - in its current form, saying he would need months to formulate an appropriate response.

Read also Dutch referendum: The Netherlands take a 6 months break to find a solution

Rutte told parliament on Wednesday night that he intends to reach an agreement with EU partners by the summer that addresses the concerns of the Dutch voters. "If we fail to do that we will propose not ratifying the treaty," he said.

Elements of the treaty have already gone into effect. Despite the Dutch "no", the European Commission will propose this month going ahead with plans to grant visa-free travel to Ukrainians.

Reporting by Reuters

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