HCSS in the media

Dutch lawmakers approve EU trade deal with Ukraine

May 31st 2017 - 14:22

In a decision laden with symbolic value, Dutch lawmakers agreed on Tuesday to closer ties and the creation of a free-trade area with Ukraine, completing a long and contentious negotiation that pushed Russia and the European Union to the edge of confrontation.

Riding a wave of euroskeptic fervor that was sweeping Europe, populists in the Netherlands used the prospect of closer ties with Ukraine to highlight what they characterized as the folly of EU policies. Europe, they said, was needlessly becoming entwined with a deeply corrupt, economic basket case already in a state of conflict, and Dutch taxpayers would find themselves on the hook. The populists gathered enough momentum to force a national referendum, which they won in April 2016 with a low turnout.

"The campaign added up to a hugely effective attack on the EU that led to the agreement being halted for months and made the Netherlands look very bad -and, for a while, it even looked as if the deal wouldn't make it, and that would have been the ultimate foreign policy victory for Russia", said Sijbren de Jong to the New York Times. 

The full article can be read here.

Radio France International also spoke with Sijbren de Jong about the ratification of the treaty. The full article can be read here.

Photo credit: mac_ivan via Foter.com / CC BY

Sijbren de Jong is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS and lecturer in Geo-Economics at Leiden University, The Hague. He has a PhD in EU external energy security relations from the University of Leuven and holds degrees in Economic Geography (MSc) from the University of Groningen and Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (MA) from the University of Leuven. His geographical areas of expertise include Russia, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Region; Central and Eastern Europe; and the Western Balkans.