By Anne van der Schoot
(Bloomberg) -- A majority in the Dutch senate on Tuesday
voted in favor of an annex to the EU-Ukraine association
agreement that addresses concerns about the pact.
The vote paves the way for ratification of EU-Ukraine
association agreement by the Netherlands -- the only holdout of
the 28 EU member states.
“We are nearly there,” says European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement on Tuesday. The agreement “is
now one step closer to being ratified. I would like to see the
process now being finalised swiftly, in time for the EU-Ukraine
Summit in July”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte needed votes from parties
outside his coalition cabinet as government doesn’t hold a
majority in Dutch upper house.
NOTE: Dutch voters rejected the EU-Ukraine treaty in an April,
Rutte sought a way to sign the treaty by clarifying in an
annex that Ukraine is not being offered EU membership, and that
there’s no obligation for member states to provide security
guarantees or other military aid to Ukraine.
NOTE: EU leaders agreed to the annex at a summit in Brussels
in December and the lower house of Dutch parliament gave it
support in February.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Anne van der Schoot in The Hague at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's vote in the Dutch Senate sends an important signal from the Netherlands and the entire European Union to our Ukrainian friends: Ukraine's place is in Europe. Ukraine's future lies with Europe.
I would like to thank the Dutch government and the leadership of other parties for their efforts in bringing this process to a positive conclusion. We are nearly there. Our Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area component, is now one step closer to being ratified. I would like to see the process now being finalised swiftly, in time for the EU-Ukraine Summit in July.
The European Union is fully committed to our partnership with the Ukrainian people, which has developed into one of our closest and most valued. The Association Agreement has already increased trade between us, has brought increased prosperity for entrepreneurs, has helped to initiate and consolidate a number of reforms in Ukraine, and has brought new opportunities to European Union and Ukrainian citizens alike. Let us harness the positive momentum generated by today's vote to further strengthen our partnership.
In 2014 the European Union and Ukraine signed an Association Agreement, marking a new state in the development of EU-Ukraine relations. The Association Agreement will enter into force once all parties to the Agreement have ratified it.
On 15 December 2016, the EU Heads of State and Government agreed on a legally binding decision setting out their common understanding of certain aspects of the Association Agreement with Ukraine: clarifying that the agreement does not confer European Union membership perspective, or offer collective security guarantees or military aid/assistance to Ukraine or give Ukrainian nationals access to the labour markets of EU Member States, that it does not commit Member States to financial assistance to Ukraine and underlining that the fight against corruption is an essential element of the Agreement.
On 16 December, the Dutch Government adopted a draft law confirming the ratification of the Association Agreement by the Netherlands.
On 23 February, the draft law received support from the lower house. On 23 May, the Senate held a debate with a majority being in favour of the ratification. Today's vote in the Senate follows this debate.
The Netherlands shall finalise its ratification process according to their national provisions. They include the signature of the law by the King, its publication in the Official Journal of the Netherlands and the deposit of their instrument of ratification to the General Secretariat of the Council.
After this, the EU side will need to finalise procedures for the conclusion of the Agreement and deposit its instruments of ratification. The Agreement will enter into force the first day of the second month following the date of deposit of the last instrument of ratification or approval.