Rutte: Dutch gamble
Anna van Densky, OPINION
Dutch Prime-Minister Mark Rutte tries to play hard the card of EU solidarity versus ‘aggressive Russia’, while looking for a compromise at the EU Summit in Brussels. The Union has stumbled over Dutch rejection of Ukrainian free-trade perspectives, and the integration process in general, when The Netherlands said clear ‘NO’ in the referendum over EU-Ukraine Association agreement.
Today’s appeal to necessity for the EU unity at face of Russia’s ‘aggression’ is a pretty worn out card, signifying #Rutte has no aces in the sleeves. Dutch voters can hardly understand their PM passion for Crimea, while Cyprus problem has never caught his eye, although it is the EU member. While the Ukraine’s integration and free trade with the EU can significantly undermine Dutch agriculture, with overwhelming Europe by cheap agricultural products. There is also a clear message of protest on raising Ukrainian living standards on expense of Dutch citizens. The legendary European ‘solidarity’ increasingly became a victim of averse therapy performed by the European burocrats, lavishing new member states with favors indiscriminately, at expense of the tax-payers of the old member-states. The perspective to open gates to Ukraine, sharing corruption index with Nigeria does not inspire many of Dutch citizens, although being exceptionally generous with the European project though entire membership.
In view of general elections in March – ironically the 15th of March called Ides of March by Romans is a historic day, when Julius Caesar was assassinated, – Rutte has increasing difficulty to convince his compatriots that Russian are more dangerous than #jihadi invading Europe with the migrant flows. Especially, when Dutch see success projects as Hermitage Amsterdam, where part of the masterpieces collection from St-Petersburg is exposed on permanent basis, seeing that the parallels with Islamists don’t impress.
The compromise with ‘caveats’ for EU candidacy status for Ukraine, and free-trade deal were hinted as possible by a number of the EU diplomats. Rutte himself is visibly full of determination to ‘iron folds out’ at the Summit, brining back a deal that will be satisfactory enough to pass in the Parliament’s both chambers before the elections.
In a way a symbolical compromise offered to Dutch people by the EU will be in a line with its usual method of coping with the ‘vox populi’ they undertook with the EU Constitution, modifying it into Lisbon Treaty, or bluntly offering Irish people to vote once again when the Eurocrats didn’t like the outcome of referendum. ‘You only live twice’ in the EU:)
However, the final ‘verdict of today’s compromise on Ukraine Rutte hopes to achieve will be announced by the Dutch ballots on the 15th of March, when Rutte will get the genuine assessment of his work, including the response to Dutch ‘NO’ referendum on Ukraine.
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