Posts tagged "Mark Rutte"

Dutch voters say ‘No’ to Ukraine deal

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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The other referendum

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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Brexit: will the Dutch be able to keep the Brits on board?

‘Brexit’ scares many people and governments in the European Union – but the Dutch government is particularly worried.

British withdrawal from the EU would mean the loss of the Netherlands’ most important ally in the debate about European integration. With the British referendum just a matter of time, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte (pictured), will want to keep his British counterpart, David Cameron, onside. And Cameron will need Rutte’s support to bring back some powers to London.

Yet diverging approaches to renegotiation could put a strain on the relationship.

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Mixed fortunes for governing parties in Dutch regional polls

The Dutch provincial elections, held on 18 March, have resulted in a striking fragmentation of the Dutch political landscape.

The results of the provincial elections have national importance: the 566 newly-elected members of the twelve provinces (known as states-provincial) will elect the 75 members of the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer). This indirect election will take place on 26 May 2015.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Five days on from the election: five reflections on the Commission presidency

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]This blogpost, originally published at 12:55 on Friday 30 May, has been updated following remarks by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, later on Friday afternoon.[/infopane]

That was the week that was: an odd few days where the European People’s Party won the European Parliament elections, but was also the biggest loser; and where Socialists in the Parliament backed the EPP lead candidate for the European Commission presidency, only for some centre-right leaders to apply the brakes in the European Council.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP lead candidate, is still the frontrunner and the only person formally in the running. His chances have been boosted tanks to comments by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday, that she is conducting negotiations on the basis that Juncker should be President.

However, it is clear that a number of heads of government would like to dump him in favour of someone else. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has been charged with an exploratory mission to find the person – Juncker included – who can command the sufficient majority in the Parliament and European Council.

Meanwhile, five political groups in the European Parliament have backed Juncker to have a first go at building majorities in the same institutions – and if he fails, are likely to call for Martin Schulz, lead candidate of the second-placed Socialists, to have a go.

If those who want to block Juncker in the European Council succeed – and it is not a done deal yet for the former Luxembourg prime minister – an inter-institutional battle between the Parliament and European Council will be on the cards.

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Party games: the Parliament and its post-election musical chairs

Six months away from the European Parliament elections, the first serious set of predictions are being made.

Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute, a Paris-based think-tank, has recently published a must-read policy paper in which it predicts that the centre-left Socialists & Democrats Group (S&D) will oust the centre-right European People’s Party Group (EPP) as the largest group in the new Parliament.

And in February, Burson-Marsteller Brussels will support the launch – as part of Europe Decides – of PollWatch, a VoteWatch Europe project that will take an in-depth and regular look at opinion polls and the likely composition of the new assembly.

However, the election results are only part of the story. Post-election horse-trading and haggling plays a key role in determining the final composition of the groups and – significantly this time – the creation of a majority to back the appointment of a new President of the European Commission.

Political positioning and the distribution of key roles (such as committee chairs or group spokespeople) may help sway the decisions of national party delegations on where to sit.

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Reading the tea leaves: who will be the Dutch nominee to the European Commission?

The European Parliament election campaign is well underway in the Netherlands, with several parties having held public debates between candidates for the right to head the list for the 2014 poll.

However, there has been remarkably little discussion about who the Dutch government will nominate to the European Commission next year. We have read the tea leaves to see who may emerge to take this key role.

Historically, all Dutch nominees to the Commission have been government ministers whose political party was a partner in the coalition government that put their name forward.

Experience has traditionally been a key factor: all commissioners from the Netherlands have been appointed when at least 50 years old. Both the current Vice-President of the Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, and her predecessor as commissioner from the Netherlands, Frits Bolkestein, were well into their sixties when they started. Kroes – the first female commissioner from the Netherlands – is currently the doyenne of the Commission, at 72 years.

Dutch members of the European Commission have usually held important portfolios, including agriculture, competition, internal market, and foreign affairs, and the current Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, is likely to want to secure a strong portfolio for his nominee. So who are the potential candidates?

Read our full profiles of the potential nominees for the Commission from the Netherlands

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