Hague risks losing justice capital status
28 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — International organisations based in The Hague have strongly criticised Dutch regulations hindering expat recruitment, claiming that the future of the city as the world's justice capital could be in jeopardy.
28 February 2005
AMSTERDAM — International organisations based in The Hague have strongly criticised Dutch regulations hindering expat recruitment, claiming that the future of the city as the world's justice capital could be in jeopardy.
In a joint statement, the organisations said The Hague's status as "world capital of justice" was being undermined by an inhospitable policy towards foreigners. Complaints are particularly focused on the difficulty of obtaining visas for staff and families.
The Dutch political capital is home to institutions such as the UN's International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the war crimes court the International Criminal Court.
In total, about 30 international organisations employing thousands of Dutch and expat staff are based in The Hague, news agency AFP reported on Sunday.
"The ministries appear to be working with us only reluctantly," the secretary-general of the International Court of Arbitration, Tjaco van den Hout, said. If a new international organisation is set up in future, there's a good chance it won't choose The Hague."
The Dutch government has cracked down on immigration in recent years, tightening policies to restrict, in particular, the flow of marriage migrants and asylum seekers. Despite the government's stated agenda of openness towards 'knowledge workers', the immigration service IND remains notoriously slow.
And a new streamlined permit system — used to issue skilled expats with a five-year residence permit, exempting them from having to obtain a work permit — has been slow to get off the ground since its launch in October 2004.
The mayor of The Hague, Wim Deetman, has agreed with the criticism directed against the Dutch government. "I don't understand the attitude of some government members. We surely want to be a pleasant host," he said.
The European Patents Office (EPO) said in a press release on 24 February that it is encountering problems regarding visas and work permits for staff, their spouses and children. It also complained about recent tax changes in the Netherlands.
Some 2,700 staff are employed at the EPO's offices in The Hague, but the organisation said "continuing problems have recently given rise to industrial action and have led a majority of staff to express a willingness to leave the Netherlands at short notice".
The EPO press release was issued prior to a Cabinet decision on 25 February exempting partners of skilled expats from having to obtain a work permit. And negotiations with the Dutch government are also underway to redefine the manner in which the EPO is treated as an international organisation.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news