Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, responded to the vote in the Dutch Senate – on the ratification of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine –  with a statement which Russia is likely to find difficult.

The vote comes in the wake of bold statements by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and by French President, Emanuel Macron, both of whom have directly confronted the pervasive issues of Russian influence targeted at Western elections, and the impact of it upon collapsing international relations with the US and UK.

Mr Juncker said: “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. Ukraine’s future lies with Europe.”

“I would like to thank the Dutch government and the leadership of other parties for their efforts in bringing this process to a positive conclusion. We are nearly there. Our Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area component, is now one step closer to being ratified. I would like to see the process now being finalised swiftly, in time for the EU-Ukraine Summit in July.”

“The European Union is fully committed to our partnership with the Ukrainian people, which has developed into one of our closest and most valued. The Association Agreement has already increased trade between us, has brought increased prosperity for entrepreneurs, has helped to initiate and consolidate a number of reforms in Ukraine, and has brought new opportunities to European Union and Ukrainian citizens alike. Let us harness the positive momentum generated by today’s vote to further strengthen our partnership.”

In 2014 the European Union and Ukraine signed an Association Agreement, marking a new state in the development of EU-Ukraine relations. The Association Agreement will enter into force once all parties to the Agreement have ratified it.

On 15 December 2016, the EU Heads of State and Government agreed on a legally binding decision setting out their common understanding of certain aspects of the Association Agreement with Ukraine: clarifying that the agreement does not confer European Union membership perspective, or offer collective security guarantees or military aid/assistance to Ukraine or give Ukrainian nationals access to the labour markets of EU Member States, that it does not commit Member States to financial assistance to Ukraine and underlining that the fight against corruption is an essential element of the Agreement.

On 16 December, the Dutch Government adopted a draft law confirming the ratification of the Association Agreement by the Netherlands.

On 23 February, the draft law received support from the lower house. On 23 May, the Senate held a debate with a majority being in favour of the ratification. Today’s vote in the Senate follows this debate.

The Netherlands shall finalise its ratification process according to their national provisions. They include the signature of the law by the King, its publication in the Official Journal of the Netherlands and the deposit of their instrument of ratification to the General Secretariat of the Council.

After this, the EU side will need to finalise procedures for the conclusion of the Agreement and deposit its instruments of ratification. The Agreement will enter into force the first day of the second month following the date of deposit of the last instrument of ratification or approval.

Russia continues its military conflict in Ukraine, which began in 2014.