The majority of Dutch people who went to the polls in the Netherlands on Wednesday to express their opinion on the proposed association agreement between the EU and Kiev have rejected it, preliminary results and exit polls have shown.
Sixty-one percent voted against the Netherlands ratifying the treaty, which would strengthen economic and political ties between the 28-nation bloc and Kiev, an exit poll conducted by the Ipsos center shows. Some 38 percent of the voters supported the move, the exit poll has shown.
Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement
The Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement is a treaty between the European Union (EU), Euratom, their 28 Member States and Ukraine that establishes a political and economic association between the parties. The parties committed to co-operate and converge economic policy, legislation, and regulation across a broad range of areas, including equal rights for workers, steps towards visa-free movement of people, the exchange of information and staff in the area of justice, the modernisation of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and access to the European Investment Bank. The parties committed to regular summit meetings, and meetings among ministers, other officials, and experts. The agreement furthermore establishes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between the parties.
The agreement commits Ukraine to economic, judicial, and financial reforms to converge its policies and legislation to those of the European Union. Ukraine committed to gradually conform to EU technical and consumer standards. The EU agreed to provide Ukraine with political and financial support, access to research and knowledge, and preferential access to EU markets. The agreement commits both parties to promote a gradual convergence toward the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and European Defence Agency policies.
The agreement comes after more than two decades in which both parties sought to establish closer ties with each other. On the one hand, the European Union wants to ensure that its imports of grain and natural gas from Ukraine, as well as its exports of goods to Ukraine, are not threatened by instability in the region, believing that instability could eventually be reduced through sociopolitical and economic reforms in Ukraine. Ukraine, on the other hand, wants to increase its exports by benefiting from free trade with the European Union while attracting desirable external investments, as well as establishing closer ties with a sociopolitical entity to which many Ukrainians feel strong cultural connection. Western Ukraine is found to be generally more enthusiastic about EU membership than Eastern Ukraine.
The political provisions of the treaty were signed on 21 March 2014 after a series of events that had stalled its ratification culminated in a revolution in Ukraine and overthrow of the then incumbent President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. This ousting was sparked by Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the agreement. Russia, Ukraine’s second largest trading partner, instead presented an association with the existing Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as an alternative. After 21 March 2014 matters relating to trade integration were temporarily set aside (awaiting the results of the 25 May 2014 Ukrainian presidential elections) until the European Union and the new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement on 27 June 2014, and described this as Ukraine’s “first but most decisive step” towards EU membership.
As of January 2016 the Agreement has been applied provisionally (Titles III, V, VI and VII, and the related Annexes and Protocols have been provisionally applied since 1 November 2014, while Title IV has been applied from 1 January 2016)., as far as the provisions concern EU competences. Provisions shall formally come into force upon ratification of the Agreement by all signatories.