Global Independent Analytics
Lionel Baland
Lionel Baland

Location: Belgium

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Will a “No” at the Dutch Referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Change the Deal ?

For Western European people, it’s hard to be in favor of a system where the US places trouble in the EU neighborhood and asks later EU member states to pay the bill for a bottomless pit.

On January 1, 2016, the Netherlands took the position of the presidency of the European Union for the next six months. This time, it's hard work for the Dutch government to manage the different main issues : migration crisis, terrorism, trouble between the EU members, risks of dismantlement of Schengen area, risk of Brexit… At the same time, the Dutch people will vote on April 6 on a non-binding referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. This vote and the campaign linked to it take place in a troubled time for the government.

At the national elections in 2012, the right - liberal party VVD got 41 of the 150 MP seats and the labour party PvdA got 38 seats. They decided to form together a joint government. At the time, a lot of people were still for these kind of mainstream parties or had the habit to vote for the main parties of the system as though the future will be as nice as the past was.

But, because the financial crisis and the EU financial line, this government had to save a lot of money and started taking hard measures hurting a lot of people to meet its targets in this field. More and more people became angry and started changing their mind and wanted to vote for other parties. In a recent Maurice de Hond’s poll, the VVD gets 18 seats and the PvdA 9 seats. In a country as the Netherlands such a big slump of the political parties of the system is something rare. The people have the habit of voting for the three parties of the system: VVD, PvdA and the Christian Democratic CDA (that in this poll is at 19 seats). But in this poll, the three parties of the system get together only 46 of 150 seats: it’s a big earthquake.

The people who vote every time for these three parties are changing their mind because they are getting sick of all the problems. A lot of people in the opinion polls want to vote for non-mainstream parties, mainly to the patriotic PVV of Geert Wilders that went up a lot in this poll to 41 seats (as oppose to 15 seats in 2012). The reasons for this evolution is that people can see the effects of the globalisation and the lack of democracy. When the Dutch people voted at the 2005 Dutch consultative referendum on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, 61.6 % answered “No” to the question: "Are you in favour of or against approval by the Netherlands of the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe?" The turnout was 63.3 %. The European politicians circumvented the results and introduced one part of the contents of this treaty by using other ways.

The campaign to hold a referendum was launched after the Dutch parliament had already voted in favor of the treaty by GeenPeil, an initiative of the shock blog Geenstijl, the think-tank Forum voor Democratie and the Burgercomite EU Association. When the EU-leaders decided to conclude the commercial and political agreement with Ukraine, they didn’t anticipate that a Dutch satirical website would collect, following a new law, the 300,000 signatures needed to get an advisory referendum on this topic. At the end, 450,000 signatures were gathered. If the people vote on April 6 against the agreement, answering “No” to the question “Are you for or against the law approving the treaty of association between the European Union and Ukraine?”, it will not change the strategy of the EU but it will weaken the Dutch government and the Dutch presidency of the EU.

 The Dutch government and the head of the EU are of course making as usual big propaganda saying that the agreement will provide EU countries with jobs, economic growth etc.… and that if the Dutch people don’t give their agreement, a lot of bad things will happen. But the people of Western Europe don’t want to pay for a new Danaids’ barrel worse than Greece. A lot of people think that a big part of the money sent by EU members to this Balkan country will probably never come back. The economic situation in Ukraine looks terrible; there are very big tensions inside the country and a kind of civil war. At the first glance, Ukraine could be an economical El Dorado, but it will not be so because everything there is corrupted and it’s practically not possible for Western European citizens or companies to invest in Ukraine. By contrast, the rapprochement with this country will lead to a large social dumping hurting primarily the workers (the average salary in Ukraine is 250 euro a month and the minimum wage is 50 euro a month).

Of course, Western European citizens want a stable situation everywhere in Europe and wish peace and the prosperity for everybody but they don’t see why they have to pay for an area that before was financially sustained by Russia and then teared out by the US to weaken Russia. The Americans made the trouble and now EU citizens have to pay the bill. In addition, the Dutch people didn’t have in their history direct trouble with Russia because it’s not a neighboring country and they don’t want to be sent back to the time of the Cold war when Europe was cut in two parts and there were a lot of tensions in this continent. Consequently, they can not agree with a kind of an anti-Russian agreement. The Dutch people understand that there  if there is trouble between Ukrainians about the future of their country, this issue has to be solved peacefully by the Ukrainian citizens themselves helped by the international community. The main target has to be peace and stability in Europe and good relationships between the states of the continent.

The Western European trusts less and less in the mainstream media and in the politicians and more and more citizens understand that the politicians are not working for the people but for the interests of the US, the globalists and the multinational companies. The Dutch people will probably go to the polls, the minimum 30% of participation needed will be easily gained and the “No” will probably win but the EU leaders will turn the decision around and will continue to implement the contents of the agreement. This will conduct to a deeper rejection of the political system, the EU and the politicians. The Dutch government and the mainstream political parties will suffer from this at the next national elections foreseen for March 2017.

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