Borders might close on East Europeans
26 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — In a bid to find more jobs for unemployed Dutch nationals, the Cabinet is considering closing the borders to East European workers for two years after the expansion of the European Union next year.
A parliamentary majority has previously proposed refusing entry to workers from the new EU member states until 2006. Social Affairs State Secretary Mark Rutte has since lodged a formal proposal with the cabinet, which is expected to approve the plan later this week.
But Rutte has also presented the cabinet with several alternatives. The first of which means the borders will be closed, but allows East European workers to obtain a work permit to enter the Netherlands if they have an employment contract, suggesting that they can be used if no Dutch nationals can be found for the work.
A second alternative is to simply allow the free movement of labour from the East European countries — a strong principle of the EU — while the third option would be maintenance of stronger permit requirements. The state secretary has refused to give a preference for any of the alternatives.
A parliamentary majority made up of the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and populist LPF are concerned that the Netherlands will be inundated with cheap labour from countries such as Poland and Latvia, making it harder to find jobs for unemployed Dutch nationals.
Cabinet CDA and VVD ministers are also concerned and believe that a two-year reprieve is necessary, but governing coalition partner Democrat D66 has its doubts, ANP reported.
D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst is in favour of the free movement of labour, while VVD Finance Minister Zalm has backed the temporary closure of Dutch borders, indicating that the cabinet is polarised on party lines.
The number of EU member states will expand by 10 next year, and Germany and Austria have already resolved to close their borders for two years to East European workers. Other EU member states are considering following suit, RTL reported.
The Dutch cabinet is expected to make a decision in favour of closing the nation’s borders during its weekly meeting on Friday.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news