The EU Has Bigger Trouble than Brexit alone

Trouble brewing in the Netherlands
By Pim Beaart and cross-posted from WOLF STREET

The referendum in the Netherlands on April 6th is going to cause a lot of trouble, possibly axing the strong Dutch commitment to the European project.

The plebiscite is about the Association Treaty between EU and Ukraine, into which the EU inserted some curious clauses about military cooperation and such. It is not a trading treaty per se, since those are the sole responsibility of the European Commission and would not require ratification by the member states.

Another fact that points toward bigger issues at stake is the last-minute involvement of the US government that recently urged Dutch voters to vote YES.

Although Parliament already ratified the Ukraine Treaty, it did so under the provision that under Dutch Law it might be open to a challenge by a plebiscite. The road to such a plebiscite is so difficult that it obviously was never meant to be possible. But the immensely popular Dutch anarcho-liberal blog Geen Stijl managed to gather 470,000 signatures, way more than the 350,000 required by law. A lot of signatures in a country with a total population of 17 million!

And it forced the government to organize the plebiscite.

Though the formal outcome is not binding, it seems unlikely that the ruling coalition will be able to even partially ignore its result. The coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals has only a fragile majority in parliament. With elections coming in March 2017, unless the government falls within the next two months, disregarding the result is a road to political disaster.

Polling consistently shows a halving of the liberal party and the annihilation of the Social Democrat party that might lose as much as three quarters of its current seats in parliament.

As if this were not sufficiently difficult for the European Commission, there’s the subsequent Brexit referendum in the UK. The time span between both referendums is such that the Dutch government won’t be able to postpone a decision on whether or not to disregard the outcome of April 6th, in a valiant attempt to avoid a Brexit and the troubles that torpedoing the Association Treaty with Ukraine (subject of the Dutch referendum) will cause

Continue reading the article at WOLF STREET

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