Dealing with discontent after the Dutch ‘No’

Dutch flag

The Dutch have once again thrown a spanner in Europe’s works.

Eleven years after the people of the Netherlands rejected the European Union’s constitutional treaty, they have delivered another ‘nee’ – this time to an Association Agreement with Ukraine.

The vote was decisive – more than 60 per cent of voters opposed the agreement (albeit on a low turnout). But was it a ‘no’ to the agreement, or to the political and media establishment?

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Dutch voters say ‘No’ to Ukraine deal

EU and Ukraine flags

The Dutch government will not automatically ratify the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte made the announcement after initial exit polls indicated that a large majority of voters had opposed ratification in an advisory referendum on Wednesday 6 April.

Although the consultative referendum is non-binding, the Prime Minister and the leaders of all political parties have made it clear that the strong ‘No’ vote has consequences. What those consequences are in practice will be clarified over the coming weeks.

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Super Sunday shakes the centre in Germany

Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route

The results of the ‘Super Sunday’ regional elections in Baden-Wurttemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt have shaken up German politics.

In all three states, the parties of the incumbent minister-presidents came out on top in what were personality-driven elections. But each will be forced to build new coalitions to form a government.

The Christian Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured), and her centre-left Social Democrat coalition partners, suffered substantial losses.

With the next federal elections only 18 months away, the results will have significant consequences for German and European politics.

Download our briefing (PDF)

Words  Christian Thams (Burson-Marsteller Berlin)
Photo  (c) European Union, 2016

The other referendum

EU and Ukraine flags

It could not come at a worse time for the Dutch government.

On 6 April, right in the middle of the Netherlands’ Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the country will hold a referendum on ratification of the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. And it is causing headaches for Dutch political leaders.

The main reason is that this is not really a vote about economic and political relations with Ukraine. It’s about Europe.

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Cameron looks to secure legacy as referendum campaign kicks off

APTOPIX Britain Election

Europe has been an issue that has dominated British politics for decades.

The question of the UK’s membership of the EU has been the subject of major swings in public opinion and a constant theme in general elections.

Successive governments have been forced to defend their record in key negotiations with their European counterparts, to frequent and prominent public criticism.

Read more on the Burson-Marsteller UK blog

Words  David Mitchell (Burson-Marsteller UK, London)
Photo  CC/Flickr number10gov

Borgen and the Premier League on the beach…?


In years gone by –  call it Before Digital, or BD – choosing a few paperbacks for leisurely reading on the beach was part of the summer vacation ritual.

Fast forward to After Digital, or AD, and the world promises to be your oyster.

All you need is your favourite digital device and a half-decent internet connection, and you have access to movies, sporting events, books or music on any stretch of sand, anywhere in Europe, at any time.

But this digital cornucopia is always tantalisingly out of reach.

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Countering the AMR threat – what role for the EU?

Pipette and  Petri dish

Since 2014, the Commission’s role in health has noticeably changed.

Unless an issue can be reshaped under the umbrella of ‘competitiveness and sustainable public finances’ it is a low priority for the current Commission.

However, politicians will always react to the crises of the day. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one such crisis.

Senior Commission officials even consider AMR as a threat akin to climate change.

Burson-Marsteller Brussels’ Healthcare and Food Practice has put together its view, assessing what role the Commission could play in solving the problem of AMR.

Download our briefing (PDF)