Europe

EU leaders struggle to find unity over Ukraine agreement

  • French President Francois Hollande, second left, speaks with the Mayor of Aleppo, Brita Hagi Hasan, left, and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, second right, during a round table meeting at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders meet Thursday in Brussels to discuss defense, migration, the conflict in Syria and Britain's plans to leave the bloc. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    French President Francois Hollande, second left, speaks with the Mayor of Aleppo, Brita Hagi Hasan, left, and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, second right, during a round table meeting at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders meet Thursday in Brussels to discuss defense, migration, the conflict in Syria and Britain's plans to leave the bloc. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a news conference at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders have reached a compromise with the Netherlands that will allow the bloc to enact an agreement on closer ties with Ukraine. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a news conference at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders have reached a compromise with the Netherlands that will allow the bloc to enact an agreement on closer ties with Ukraine. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a news conference at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders have reached a compromise with the Netherlands that will allow the bloc to enact an agreement on closer ties with Ukraine. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a news conference at an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders have reached a compromise with the Netherlands that will allow the bloc to enact an agreement on closer ties with Ukraine. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)  (The Associated Press)

European Union leaders are struggling to find a deal with the Netherlands to approve an association agreement with Ukraine.

A deal would allow the EU to show a united front in the face of an increasingly hostile Russia and boost trade and cooperation with an eastern European nation finding it hard to keep out of Moscow's sphere of influence.

The EU-Ukraine association agreement looked like a lock until the Dutch government was forced into a referendum on it early this year. The rejection left the EU in a bind since it needs unanimity.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte now wants an added text from the leaders assuring the deal will not lead to automatic EU membership to assuage his voters back home.