On Wednesday, a referendum will be held in the Netherlands about the Association Treaty between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine. The Dutch are the only European people allowed to have a direct say about this treaty.
The Party for Freedom (PVV) is opposed to it, because we think it is yet another example of how ruling elites in Brussels and in The Hague decide things above our heads and sell out our interests without ever consulting us.
There are many good reasons to oppose this treaty.
Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. According to Transparancy International, it is even more corrupt than Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi. The treaty does not just deal with trade, but all sorts of domains where Ukraine has to bring its policies and regulations in line with the EU.
The Ukrainian authorities and the EU elites in Brussels hope that sooner or later the treaty will lead to Ukrainian EU membership. The EU is an expansionist monster. It would be very bad if it were allowed to grow even further. As a matter of fact, the EU should be abolished.
Moreover, Ukraine is a deeply divided country. There is a civil war going on and a conflict with Russia. It would be a geopolitical mistake to bring a country, which should be a neutral buffer between Europe and Russia and which should act as a bridge between them, within the camp of either Russia or the EU. The previous EU interference in Ukraine has only made the political tensions in that country worse. The association treaty does not restrict itself to trade issues, but even includes military cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. This is another example of the expansionist nature of the EU.
The association treaty also envisages to work towards visa-free travel between Europe and Ukraine. Earlier experiences with the lifting of visa requirements has shown to lead to more illegal immigration from these countries and to more asylum seekers. We have enough illegal immigration and asylum seekers in Western Europe already. The number of asylum seekers from Albania rose by 40 per cent after visa liberalisation with that country.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, warns for a major continental crisis if the Dutch reject the treaty. This is nonsense.
It might be another crisis for the EU, but it would only have itself to blame for this. The EU is ruled by an undemocratic bureaucracy and ever more Europeans have enough of it. And no one can prevent the Dutch people using this referendum to voice their dislike of the EU, and of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the present chairman of the European Council.
The referendum is very important. Unfortunately, Dutch law only allows consultative referendums, and not binding referendums. However, it would be political suicide for the governing parties if they were to reject the outcome. This is the first referendum in the Netherlands on the initiative of the people and must be taken seriously. Referendums are an expression of the will of the people. The PVV – my party – is in favour of more referendums.
Geert Wilders MP is a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV)