In their today’s editorial The Daily Herald writes that the handling of the Bosman Law in The Hague, illustrates that participation in the upcoming European Parliament elections on May 22 may prove important for the Dutch Caribbean. Forms for such were presented to St. Maarten’s Parliament President Gracita Arrindell recently (see Wednesday paper). Nationals of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten currently have unrestricted access to the European Union (EU), which might come in very handy should admittance requirements for them in the Netherlands be introduced as planned.
D-66 leader Alexander Pechtold already has stated that in such a case citizens of the three autonomous countries in the kingdom could, for example, reside in neighbouring Belgium a while first and then move across the open border without problems.
The good thing is that all Dutch passport holders on the islands are eligible to vote if they register before April 10, not just those who lived in the Netherlands for 10 years as used to be the case. Primarily the Aruban politicians who fought to obtain that right deserve credit for such and thus one can understand why there is greater interest there, but also the populations of Curaçao and St. Maarten should take this matter more seriously. It must not be forgotten either that European Development Fund (EDF) means are being used for important projects on the islands, including much-needed infrastructural improvements. With Dutch cooperation aid having practically dried up, this continued assistance is increasingly necessary. Of course, voting for the European Parliament does not directly impact national policies in The Hague, but well could have long-term effects on the prevailing political climate among EU members on how to deal with former colonies, including so-called Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) like the three islands in question. Also taking into account that the current battle against the Bosman Law and similar initiatives has a good chance of ending up in the European Court, obviously the more “friendly support” at that level the better.