PVV wants to bar EU membership for Montenegro
Geert Wilders' Freedom Party PVV and opposition Socialist Party SP are calling on Prime Minister Mark Rutte to oppose any steps facilitating Montenegro' accession to the European Union. © Radio Netherlands Worldwide
PVV MP Louis Bontes said in a parliamentary debate today that Montenegro, including its government institutions, is rife with corruption. SP MP Harry van Bommel says that, in his view, Montenegro belongs to "the European family", but as long as there are concerns over crime and corruption, it shouldn't be recognised as an official candidate for EU membership. In any case, he added, Europe will hold off starting accession negotiations because of the problems with widespread corruption.
During an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, European leaders are set to recognise the former Yugoslav state as a candidate member. The Dutch cabinet will also support the motion. The minority coalition - consisting of Mark Rutte's free-market liberal VVD party and Maxime Verhagen's Christian Democrats CDA - relies on parliamentary support from the Freedom Party. CDA MP Henk Jan Ormel admitted that his party is supporting Montenegro's candidacy "with difficulty".
The country's path to the EU is likely to take years, as it will first have to convince the member states that it is serious about tackling crime. Of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, only Slovenia has become an EU member so far and Croatia may complete accession negotiations as soon as next year.
Prime Minister Rutte has been urged to insist at this week's summit that member states, which rely on a financial bail-out, adhere to the conditions laid down. Mr Rutte said he is in favour of sanctions against countries that do not comply with the rules, but added that the euro was still one of the most stable currencies in the world.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide