The Daily Herald writes in their Editorial, that the ruling by the Court of First Instance on the lawsuit to bring the old age AOV pensions of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) more in line with those of the Netherlands is food for thought.
Provisions allowing for differentiation were made in the constitution under which the three special public entities now fall, to prevent “flooding” them with Dutch laws and regulations. This is no problem as long as such is not based on “suspect” motives, including gender, race and ethnicity, but rather socio-economic factors, the court found. The regional competitiveness of the islands in terms of the impact on other wage cost also must be considered. What’s more, the pension age is 60 in the Caribbean Netherlands, while it is 65 in the European part of the country, scheduled to increase to 66 in 2019 and 67 in 2023. In addition, taxes and social premiums are significantly higher in the Netherlands, it was argued. Some say the same equality principle should apply to the autonomous countries within the Dutch kingdom St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba, because it regards basic human rights.
However, many of the justifications for having varying levels in the BES case could be used then as well. There is a certain degree of logic to the reasoning that one cannot just put a piece of Europe in the Caribbean, but must take the area’s circumstances into consideration. On the other hand, that cannot be used as an excuse for unnecessarily tolerating extreme poverty and people living under substandard conditions in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a prominent member of the European Union (EU). Thus, there are lingering questions about the actual status of Dutch citizens overseas and the Kingdom Charter, also in light of the Bosman Law. Important is that mapping out a joint future take place on the basis of common sense, pragmatism and solidarity, to come up with reasonable answers.