Dutch premier: Compromise on EU-Ukraine deal could take months

The Dutch vote against strengthening ties between the European Union and Ukraine could lead to lengthy negotiations about compromises in the implementation of the association agreement, Dutch Premier Mark Rutte said on Friday.

Many different parties were involved in the complex implementation process, Rutte told Dutch news agency ANP.

"It could be months before a solution will be found," he was quoted as saying.

In a referendum held on Wednesday, 61 per cent of voters had rejected the association agreement, while only 38 per cent voted in favour.

At 32 per cent, voter turnout was only just above the participation rate of 30 per cent required for the vote to be valid.

Legally, the vote is not binding, so the Dutch government would not be obliged to follow the outcome of the referendum. In practice, however, this is unlikely.

Rutte said the Dutch Parliament would have to consider the feelings of the people who voted against the agreement when it discusses the issue in the coming week.

Experts expect large parts of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine to be implemented without the Netherlands. However, changes to the agreement could still be made later, EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

The agreement, 27 remaining EU member states have already ratified, went into effect in part on January 1 after both houses of the Dutch parliament passed the necessary acts by large majorities.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday blasted the Dutch vote outcome as an "attack on the unity of Europe," while EU officials insisted that their approach towards Kiev would not change.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

More from Europe

Eurogroup finance ministers agree to debt relief for Greece

Finance ministers from the countries that use the euro agreed Monday in Brussels to a series of relief measures for...

Brexit campaign congratulates Italy on referendum rejection

A campaign that backed Britain's referendum to leave the European Union congratulates Italians on voting against a...

President tells Italy's Renzi to delay quitting until budget approved

Italian President Sergio Mattarella thwarted Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's plan to quickly resign on Monday by...

Careful counting delays Austrian election end result until Tuesday

The announcement of Austria's presidential voting result was pushed back to Tuesday as election commissions applied...

Manuel Valls, France's ambitious former PM with sights set on Elysee

Ambitious is one of the words most frequently deployed to describe Manuel Valls.