Dutch referendum: we need to be more engaged with our citizens, say MEPs
On Thursday EP Foreign Affairs committee chair Elmar BROK (EPP, DE), EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee chair Andrej PLENKOVIĆ (EPP, HR) and Ukraine standing rapporteur Jacek SARYUSZ-WOLSKI (EPP, PL) issued the following statement on the outcome of the Dutch referendum:
"We take note of the preliminary results of the advisory referendum that took place yesterday in the Netherlands on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
To us who are deeply convinced of the merits of this Agreement, which is mutually beneficial to both Ukrainian and EU citizens, and who were actively committed to its realisation, it is of course a disappointment to see that a majority of those who cast their vote in the Netherlands rejected the Agreement.
The result of the referendum reminds us in the EU of the need to engage with our citizens to inform and explain the benefits and the nature of the agreements it concludes and legislation it passes. Thus we will help dispel unrelated narratives and avoid amalgams and populist propaganda that misuses referenda as a positive democratic instrument.
At the same time, we stress that the Association Agreement has been already ratified by 27 EU Member States, by the European Parliament and the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada and approved by the two Dutch chambers and by the Dutch government. We believe that it is the EU as a whole with all the 28 Member States who should decide, not 20% of voters of one Member State, representing 0,6% of the entire EU population, in a referendum which has a consultative nature.
We call on the Dutch government to communicate its position as soon as possible and consequently to the Commission to propose a way forward. The European Parliament and all its bodies stand ready to discuss the way forward and to contribute to finding solutions.
We stress the need to continue with the provisional application of the Association Agreement. In this regard we welcome the stated determination of the Ukrainian authorities to go ahead with the implementation of the Agreement, which bears such a high signification in Ukraine's recent history and crystallises the hopes of Ukrainian population to see real changes happening in their country."