14:05 Jun. 29, 2016
Mark Rutte demands legally binding solutions to voters' objections
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned Tuesday, June 28, that he would sign the European Union's broad trade and political agreement with Ukraine only if he received legally binding solutions that address concerns expressed by Dutch voters in an April referendum on the deal.
Dutch voters rejected the deal in that vote, in a campaign dominated as much by domestic opposition to the European Union as specific concerns about Ukraine.
The EU-Ukraine agreement is the centerpiece of European cooperation with Kyiv since pro-Western forces took office in Ukraine in 2014. The refusal of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign the deal sparked the mass protests that eventuallyswept him from office in early 2014.
The agreement lowers tariffs across a wide range of goods and includes various kinds of political and economic cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.
Mr. Rutte acknowledged it would be hard to find a compromise that offers solutions to Dutch voters' concerns without ripping up an agreement that provisionally took full effect Jan. 1. The agreement has already been ratified by 27 of the 28 EU member states, Ukraine and the European Parliament. Full story