The Dutch referendum on Ukraine scheduled for 6 April 2016 has raised a number of disputes and controversial coverage by the international media. While the referendum mainly concerns votes of the Dutch nationals, the results of the polls may touch the interests of expats living in the Netherlands
According to the CBS latest statistics, there are around 75 000 expats in the Netherlands. The majority of them are from the USA, Germany, the UK and Asia. That’s no surprise! Known for its spirit of freedom and an open-minding approach, the Netherlands has always been a popular destination for internationals. So far was the entire European Union until the recent economic and political challenges. Based on the idea of ‘diversity in unity’, the EU fundamental principles have always been a prohibition of discrimination and encouragement for expansion.
But regardless of the EU values the Dutch government and Brussels seem to have changed their political curve. The upcoming referendum generated by a GeenStijl petition that gathered over 450 000 signatures is likely to have a consultancy status. This means that the final decision has probably been already made by the EU officials. The Dutch authorities seem to be interested in minimizing voters’ participation in the referendum as much as possible.
The reason for such an unusual approach is quite an unstable situation of Ukraine in the world. Today Ukraine is viewed as another nuisance for Brussels, another marginal part of Europe, destroyed by the revolution. Despite the Ukraine’s continuous show-off of its loyalty to the EU, Kyiv is hopelessly steeped in political corruption and money laundering. The recent parliamentary elections were the perfect example of “public trust gain” by Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk when the cost of a deputy vote comprised of $1 million.
However, any discrimination of human rights and freedoms can provoke social unrests. What’s more tricky is obedience of the official EU’s position on the Dutch referendum could be a driving factor for the authorities to use this course in the future. In this case expats living in the Netherlands and across the EU would likely be the first to fall under this injustice.
Perhaps such fears are seemingly quite exaggerated. But it only takes a spark to start a fire. By encouraging voters to have their say the Netherlands might demonstrate its loyalty not only to its own citizens but to the expats and prospective internationals willing to contribute to the progress and prosperity of the European project.