According to him, over dinner at the European Council meeting tomorrow, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will serve his fellow EU leaders some unappetising options on the EU's beleaguered association agreement with Ukraine.
"Six months ago, Dutch voters opposed the deal with Ukraine by a margin of nearly two-to-one in a referendum in April, leaving diplomats in both Brussels and the Hague despairing over fate of the agreement.
"Things have not improved since and unless Rutte is able to secure cast-iron promises on items such as the military relationship between the EU and Ukraine, Ukraine's future membership of the bloc and a rock-solid guarantee on no Dutch money ever making its way to Kyiv, there is little chance of lawmakers in the Hague signing off on the association agreement," Robinson observes.
He believes that Ukraine would then be added to the list of the EU's faltering external policies. A free trade deal with Canada is struggling to get past a bunch of recalcitrant Walloons. TTIP is all but dead. The EU-Turkey deal is holding for now, but may come under strain this autumn when another deadline for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens whooshes by.
"Brussels cannot afford to budge. All 27 other member states have ratified the deal. An opt out on military cooperation, for instance, would not fly with member states increasingly wary of recent Russian aggression. Any compromise at all makes future deals more difficult," the expert notes.
"Complicating matters further, Dutch elections are five months away. While support for a full-blown "Nexit" has dwindled after the Brexit vote, standing up to Brussels is still a very popular way of winning votes. If Mr Rutte did say "nee" to Brussels, it would do his liberal party little harm at all," Robinson adds.
"Talks between the Dutch government and Brussels will limp on for a few more weeks. Mr Rutte promised MPs he would come up with his response by Nov. 1, nearly seven months after the vote. But expectations of anything besides another large dent in the EU's external policy are slim," he concludes.