The Daily Herald writes that movement of persons between the different parts of the Kingdom will have to be arranged, with or without the Bosman initiative law proposal, but the best way to go about this controversial issue would be through a joint solution in the form of a Kingdom Law. Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk said this during a debate in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday, in preparation for the April 2 Kingdom Conference in Aruba.
Plasterk said the debate with Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations was not the place for broad discussion on the law proposal of Member of Parliament (MP) André Bosman of the VVD party to regulate the residency of new immigrants from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the Netherlands, but added that the issue was part of the governing programme of the current VVD/PvdA coalition. The minister said he would relay at the Kingdom Conference the wish of the Dutch Government to come to a joint law to regulate the movement of persons within the Kingdom through a Kingdom Law.
MP Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian Union said Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten most certainly would bring up the Bosman law proposal at the Kingdom Conference. “What will the minister tell them? If the Bosman law proposal doesn’t make it in Parliament, will the Dutch Government draft its own proposal?” Bosman said the Kingdom Conference should not be about his initiative law proposal, but about the possibility to come with a joint solution to regulate the movement of persons within the Kingdom. “This is a perfect opportunity,” he said. He remarked that so far Curaçao and St. Maarten had obstructed a joint Kingdom Law. “Cooperation within the Kingdom is of great value to the VVD. Economic cooperation, but also in the area of movement of persons. I hope that the countries have the decency to engage in these talks and to come to a joint Kingdom Law. This also would facilitate travelling between the islands. A solution is only possible if we work together in this area,” said Bosman.
MP Sietse Fritsma of the Party for Freedom PVV said a joint Kingdom Law to regulate the movement of persons within the Kingdom was a “passed station.” Fritsma, whose party supports the Bosman law proposal, accused the overseas countries of “hypocrisy” because they have regulations in place for people from the Netherlands who want to reside on the islands. Fritsma said the Dutch Government had chosen the easy way by proposing to put children’s rights and economic cooperation on the agenda of the Kingdom Conference. He said the real relevant issues were corruption and Dutch taxpayers’ money that had “disappeared.” He said that as long as “corruption and stealing” by politicians continued, it made no sense to discuss children’s rights and economic cooperation.
Plasterk agreed that integrity was and remained an important issue. “Integrity is the basis of everything. It starts with a morally upright government. The interest of the country should come first and not the politicians’ own wallets,” said the minister, who added that Curaçao already had made great strides in this area. He said the Netherlands would keep putting this issue high on the agenda.
Fritsma and Bosman specifically asked about the progress the work group on inter-country movement of persons and goods had made since its establishment during the previous Kingdom Conference in December 2011. Bosman said the overseas countries had “categorically refused” to cooperate.
The report of this work group will be discussed at the April 2 Kingdom Conference. Plasterk confirmed that the work group had not made much progress. “There was no consensus. There is little enthusiasm. The underlying thought is that we have one Kingdom and one passport anyway,” he said. Responding to Bosman’s suggestion to have a Commonwealth construction in the Kingdom, whereby the overseas countries would have an independent position, Plasterk said: “We are not ready for forms of a non-binding nature. A permanent relation like we have now has an added value.”
Plasterk was not pessimistic about the Kingdom Conference. “It starts with respect and listening to each other. I assume that this will be the case at the Kingdom Conference.” He and his delegation travel to Aruba on Tuesday and he will return to the Netherlands on Thursday after a short stop in Curaçao.