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 Dutch senate ratifies EU-Ukraine treaty

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The Dutch senate has approved ratification of the EU-Ukraine free trade and association agreement on Tuesday, May 30, bringing to a close the political saga that started over a year ago when Dutch voters rejected the deal in a referendum.

Censor.NET reports citing EUobserver.

Almost two-thirds of the senate voted for ratification, with opposition coming mostly from far-left and far-right parties.

It was already anticipated that a majority of senators would vote in favor, following a debate last week.

The vote of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party was crucial, after they had opposed ratification in the lower house of the parliament.

Read more: "Step in the right direction!" - EU's Hahn welcomes Dutch MPs' support of Ukraine-EU treaty

The vote was attended by caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte (Liberals) and foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders (Labor), for whom the outcome must come as a relief.

The European Commission was quick to respond. Just minutes after the vote, it sent a press release with a comment from EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who during the referendum campaign had said a No vote would trigger a "continental crisis".

"Today's vote in the Dutch senate sends an important signal from the Netherlands and the entire European Union to our Ukrainian friends: Ukraine's place is in Europe," Juncker said on Tuesday.

Two years ago, the two houses of the Dutch parliament had already approved ratification. But in October 2015, a group of citizens used a new Dutch law that allowed them to force the government to hold a non-binding referendum about a recently passed bill. The vote was held in April 2016, and the Ukraine treaty was rejected by 61.1 percent of those who showed up to vote - with a low turnout of 32.2 percent. Although the referendum was non-binding, the Dutch political establishment decided they needed to "take the outcome into account". Centre-right Liberal prime minister Rutte did not want to flat-out ignore the results, or push ratification through, and set out to find a third option.Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n442011