Dutch government to reconsider ratifying EU-Ukraine treaty after voters reject deal

Right-wing politician Geert Wilders said the result marked 'the beginning of the end of the EU'

dutch, government, eu, ukraine, treaty, referendum

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte casts his vote in a non-binding referendum on the EU-Ukraine association agreement in The Hague. Image: Peter Dejong / AP/Press Association Images

A Dutch referendum on an EU treaty focused on the union's relationship with Ukraine has seen voters reject the deal.

Early counts suggested more than 60% of voters rejected the EU-Ukraine pact in the non-binding referendum, with only around 38% voting in favour.

Turnout is believed to have been low, with reports estimating that the 30% turnout for the result to be valid was only marginally achieved.

The Dutch government said they will have to reconsider ratifying the treaty if the final results match up with the early counts.

"If the turnout is above 30% with such a large margin of victory for the no camp, then my sense is that ratification can’t simply go ahead," Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said.

The country hit the polls on Wednesday to ostensibly reach a verdict on the terms of trade tariffs between the EU and Ukraine on items such as apricots.

The trade deal is "provisionally" in force but satirical website Geenstijl saw it as an opportunity to test a new law in the country. The anti-Europe group attained the 300,000 signatures expressing discontent with Brussels now required to call a referendum.

The vote was seen as a test of overall EU sentiment in Holland, as well as of faith in the Dutch government, the EU's relationship with Russia and more.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told reporters "we will continue our movement towards the European Union" despite the Dutch vote, Reuters reports.

The referendum result was welcomed by prominent right-wing politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch 'Party for Freedom' party, who said it marked "the beginning of the end of the EU":