Monday , March 20 2023

Opinion: Free movement of people in the Kingdom should be the target

The Daily Herald published a comment on the Kingdom Conference writing that it certainly wasn’t shocking news, but last week Tuesday’s report about agreeing during the recent Kingdom Conference to continue in writing discussions on the movement of people is a positive sign. Rather than persisting with the political rhetoric of directly opposing views regarding this matter back and forth on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the new strategy should allow for a more business-like and less emotional approach. After all, it’s no secret that the Dutch cabinet and a majority in the Second Chamber of Parliament strongly favour introducing admittance rules for persons from St. Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao in the Netherlands, including its new special overseas entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands).

To be sure, serious doubts have been expressed by the Council of State, the European Court and various experts regarding the constitutionality of these intentions, as it involves one, single Dutch nationality and passport, also in light of the post-colonial nature of the relationship. However, as long as the three Caribbean kingdom countries have certain requirements in place for European Dutchmen to establish themselves there, the principle of reciprocity will keep coming up. In addition, some kind of acceptable mutual regulation is probably to be preferred over repeated one-sided attempts to impose restrictions for citizens coming from the islands in question.

What makes the debate even more interesting is the recent ruling that also other European Union (EU) citizens should receive the same treatment as people from the Netherlands in the Dutch Caribbean. There also have been court verdicts regarding the Dutch-American friendship treaty that could impact this issue in the near future. Nevertheless, removing the few remaining residence conditions for Dutchmen from the Netherlands that don’t amount to much anyway in the long run seems the only true answer to this dilemma. There is no reason whatsoever to believe such will lead to an avalanche of workers from the Netherlands or the rest of Europe to come and take jobs away from locals, considering the significantly lower salaries and social benefits on the one hand and the relatively high cost of living, including accommodations, on the other hand.

Freedom of movement throughout the kingdom should be put on the table once and for all.

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