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Dutch PM Rutte wants EU to issue "legally binding" statement on Ukraine

One idea was to give Rutte a declaration of the other EU leaders, say diplomats.

Dutch PM Rutte wants EU to issue "legally binding" statement on Ukraine
Mark Rutte
Photo: Photo: EPA/UPG

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte asked European Union leaders on 28 June for "legally binding" assurances to address his country's concerns over a trade and association deal with Ukraine.

"What we need is a legally binding solution, which will address the many worries and elements of the discussion in the Netherlands leading up to the referendum," Rutte said after an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, Reuters reported on 28 June.

The debate around the referendum in the Netherlands, which showed dissatisfaction with Rutte's government and policy-making in Brussels, zeroed in on whether the agreement with Kiev would herald EU membership for Ukraine and its 45 million people.

"The exact form - I don't know yet," Rutte said. "It could be that we have to change the text, it could be that we can find a solution which will not involve changing the text of the association agreement. I don't know yet.

Two diplomats said after the talks that one idea was to give Rutte a declaration of the other EU leaders that the Ukraine deal was "no basis" for membership in the bloc.

The Dutch government was expected to come back to the EU with more detailed proposals, and leaders could come back to that this autumn.