Battered EU Is Loser Again in Dutch Referendum on Ukraine

49
Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 9:32 PM

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the EU'south executive Commission, had warned ahead of Wednesday'south poll that a rejection of the deal "would open the door to a grand continental crisis." Such is the EU'south standing these days, however, that its warnings aren't only disregarded but seen as a provocation.

It once seemed a quaint formality, but the Netherlands' referendum on a European Union free-trade deal with Ukraine amounted to a slap in the face for the EU — and yet another serious challenge to the European dream.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the EU'south executive Commission, had warned ahead of Wednesday'south poll that a rejection of the deal "would open the door to a grand continental crisis." Such is the EU'south standing these days, however, that its warnings aren't only disregarded but seen as a provocation.

The "grand continental crisis" may not be imminent just yet, but with a separate British referendum on whether to leave the EU looming in June, the 28-nation bloc'south future looks ever bleaker.

"The president is sad," said Juncker'south spokesman, Margaritis Schinas.

"He'll continue to do battle for Europe," Schinas said, adding that "if he'd be left the only one to do it, he'd do so."

While the EU was a bandwagon everybody wanted to connect two decades ago, it's indeed getting lonely at the top now.

Even to the political groups that forced the Dutch referendum, it was never going to be so much about the finer points of trading with Ukraine. Below Dutch law, it gave them the best chance to snub their nose at "Brussels" — increasingly used as a negative duration for the residence of EU institutions and their continentwide policies, which critics look as interfering with national life.

Final results released Thursday in the Netherlands showed 61.1 % rejected the EU-Ukraine deal, which was backed by the Dutch government and the EU leaders. Turnout was low, but just sufficient to create the vote valid.

"That's a vote of number confidence by the people against the elite from Brussels," said right-wing firebrand Geert Wilders, who's directed his poison against the EU as much as against the national government.

The Netherlands already rejected a proposed EU constitution in a two thousand five referendum, and that proved a tipping point for the fortunes of the bloc. Since then, it's stumbled from one crisis to the next, including financial woes in several member nations that raised questions over the future of its common currency, and open disagreements on how to deal with the inflow of migrants.

EU governments do compromise to obtain agreements, but if such deals obtain keep to votes, electorates throughout much of the bloc tend to reject them. France and Ireland also have rejected deals over recent years.

"It again proves there is enormous skepticism about what the EU is up to," said EU expert Hendrik Vos of Ghent University. "You look this populism ever more. Frist in Britain, and presently much more across the EU, and it's led to this fundamental distrust."

Wednesday'south result was grist to the mill of Euroskeptics in Britain who wish their country to vote to leave the EU altogether in a June twenty-three referendum.

"This result gives the British people the signal that it's moderate and normal to reject the EU and stand up for what'south in our country'south best interests," said Brian Monteith, a spokesman for Britain'south Leave. EU campaign. "The Sunday is presently setting on the European Union."

The Dutch result also delivered a political triumph to Moscow, whether or not voters intended that. Ukraine'south westward turn was at the core of Moscow'south displeasure with Kiev and at the heart of the events that culminated in Russia'south annexation of Crimea, followed by fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Twitter that the results "indicate Europeans' opinion of the Ukrainian political system." President Vladimir Putin'south spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Dutch voters were "signaling their distrust" of the EU-Ukraine association agreement.

Vladimir Frolov, a foreign affairs analyst in Moscow, said that the result was "confirming the official Russian narrative that Ukraine doesn't belong in Europe and its future is destined to be always with Russia."

"It certainly creates a public relations boost to the Russian official line," Frolov said.

In Ukraine, the mood was glum and many people were mad and upset with President Petro Poroshenko. "This is a blow to the basic and loudest promises made by Poroshenko, who promised a visa-free regime with the EU any day now," political analyst Vadim Karasev said.

The EU will still necessity to discover a way to deal with the outcome. Since the Dutch referendum was non-binding, EU leaders were already looking at a way to rescue a much of the agreement as possible, likely through the complex political brokering that's alienated so many Europeans.

"The Dutch will discover a solution, we necessity to give it time," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "In the same way we handle other challenging subjects, we'll discover a way."

The damage was already visible on Thursday, though.

"I perceive cheated and abandoned by Europe," said Anton Kononenko, a 56-year-old instructor in Kiev. "We're being pushed back into the arms of Russia."

———

Mike Corder contributed from The Hague, Yuras Karmanau from Kiev

READ ALSO
Icelandic Politician Says He'south the Country'south New PM

Icelandic Politician Says He'south the Country'south New PM

Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told reporters that he'd secured President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson'south formal backing after his predecessor resigned because of embarrassing links to an offshore account.

70
Brazilian Police Probe Whether Water Utility Treats Sewage

Brazilian Police Probe Whether Water Utility Treats Sewage

Officer Marcelo Prudente says police investigators visited at minimum six of Rio'south main sewage treatment plants to get samples for testing. The plants are located on lagoons in western Rio close the Olympic Park and on the sewage-polluted Guanabara...

86
Clinton Adviser: 'Our Campaign Is Leading the Way' On Asian-American Outreach

Clinton Adviser: 'Our Campaign Is Leading the Way' On Asian-American Outreach

"I was fascinated by the stories of the Indian independence, you know, folks in the family who'd met Mahatma Gandhi," Timmaraju told NBC News.

77
High School Kids Aren't Sleeping, and Have Accidents As a Result

High School Kids Aren't Sleeping, and Have Accidents As a Result

The scientists declare they don't know if sleep issues cause teens to get risky risks, or whether both are a reflection of depression or other problems.

74