EU officials take ‘wait and see’ approach to Dutch no vote (Update)
Few officials outside the Netherlands have yet reacted to the Dutch no vote in Wednesday’s referendum on the EU treaty with Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko said the referendum results are ‘no hindrance’ to the Ukraine’s road to Europe and described the vote as ‘purely advisory’.
‘We will press ahead with implementing the treaty of association with the European Unon and the broad trade agreement it contains,’ he told reporters.
Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has yet to comment. Before the vote he warned that rejecting the treaty could lead to a EU crisis.
Nos correspondent Gwen ter Horst said the vote is seen as purely Dutch issue and officials want to know first how the government will react.
‘In Brussels, the feeling is that if a situation is complicated, you need to take lots of time, buy time,’ she said.
Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday night that he would request advice from a wide variety of sources before deciding what to do next.
He is expected to discuss the issue on an informal basis with other European leaders in the coming weeks and to present an official reaction before the next EU summit at the end of June.
The treaty with Ukraine has already largely come into effect.
In Moscow, officials have also declined to comment on the referendum result. In Russia, the treaty is seen as deliberate attempt to lure Ukraine away.
Lobbyist Wytze Russchen told the NRC that the results of the referendum are a ‘major challenge for Dutch diplomacy’. However, the Netherlands already has a certain reputation in Brussels after rejecting the European constitution, he pointed out.
‘In fact, we’ve been hyperventilating about our foreign policy for 10 years,’ he said.
Dutch Socialists MEP Dennis de Jong told the NRC the referendum result is the end of the Brussels practise of doing business behind closed doors. The next target, he said, is the trade treaty with Canada and then the TTIP deal. ‘We are already in the starting blocks,’ he said.