Dutch lawmakers agreed to create a free-trade area with Ukraine on Tuesday, completing lengthy and contentious negotiations between the EU and Russia. The ongoing geopolitical battle between Moscow and Brussels over the future of Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin considers an integral part of historical Russia, centered on this agreement. All 28 EU members had to approve the pact before it could take effect. The Dutch were the final members to approve of the deal after rejecting [JURIST report] the pact last year. In a statement [text, PDF] by Jean-Claude Juncker [twitter account], President of the European Commission [official website], stated that “Dutch Senate sen[t] 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.” The agreement must still receive unanimous support at one of the regular meetings of European Union ministers in the coming weeks, but European officials believe the deal should easily pass.
The EU began in the 1950s as the European Economic Community (EEC) to promote a single economic market without trade barriers, and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] was created within the EU to interpret EU law and to ensure equal application across all EU member states. Earlier this month, the ECJ ruled [press release, PDF] that member states must sign off on trade deals [JURIST report] before they become law. The ruling found that the member states and the EU share competence in many areas involving trade and if the EU does not hold exclusive competence the member states must ratify the measure. Also earlier this month, the ECJ issued a non-binding opinion [JURIST report] finding that Uber is a transportation company subject to additional regulations and fines. In April the ECJ upheld [JURIST report] a visa ban on an Iranian student seeking to study in Germany. In March the ECJ ruled [JURIST report] that the bloc’s economic sanctions placed on Russia were valid.