Holland wants European Union leaders to rule out Ukraine joining the bloc for now and to place clear limits on a co-operation agreement, angering Polish officials.
The landmark deal will establish closer political ties and a gradual easing of trade terms to bind Ukraine closer to western Europe and draw it away from Russia’s orbit.
But Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is in a tight spot after Dutch voters rejected the so-called association agreement in a referendum in April.
Rutte has told Brussels he wants a legally binding ruling that the association agreement is “not a stepping stone” to Ukraine to join the EU.
But his stance has not been well received in Poland – which is a key ally of Ukraine.
Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said: “For us it is hard to accept. If it were not to lead to membership at some point in the future, then why bother with all that?
“For now of course the prospect of Ukraine’s membership is quite distant. But one day, after Ukraine implements all the provisions of the association and introduces all the EU recommendations, we will return to this issue.”
A draft document prepared by the Dutch rules out financial or security guarantees for Ukraine and spells out that Ukrainians are not being given the right to live and work in the bloc.
It says the Ukraine association agreement “does not contain an obligation for the Union or its member states to provide collective security guarantees or other military aid or assistance to Ukraine”, and nor does it require additional EU financial support.
While these were not specifically promised to Ukraine in the agreement, Mr Rutte wants them clearly placed off-limits in order to reassure Dutch voters.
The draft also says that fighting corruption in Ukraine is key to fostering closer ties between Kiev and the EU.
The association agreement is being provisionally applied but the Dutch have said they will strike it down unless their requirements are met. Holland is the only EU state not to have ratified the accord.
The deal has huge importance in Ukraine as a symbol of the country’s future direction 25 years after the Soviet Union collapsed.
Pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown in street protests in 2014 after he decided at the last minute to walk away from the accord in favour of a deal with Moscow.
Russia responded by annexing the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine and supporting a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine, a conflict which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives.
An EU diplomat said: “The stakes are high. At the end of the day, if the association agreement is not ratified by the Dutch, it will be a defeat for Ukraine, a defeat for the EU and a victory for Russia.”