POSTED: 10/9/15 4:30 PM

Minister Plasterk has made clear once and for all where the Dutch government stands with respect to the dispute regulation. The minister says that he favors such a system, but at the same time he says that he does not want it.

This is because the Caribbean countries want to put this regulation in the hands of an independent body that will issue binding advice on any dispute. That body should not be the Council of State in the view of the three countries.

Plasterk, and with him the Kingdom Council of Ministers, wants to keep final control. He does not want to give away the powers of that council to a third party, no matter how independent it is. The final decisions in any dispute should remain with the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Plasterk said yesterday.

As things stand now, nothing will happen with the dispute regulation. Parties do not see eye to eye, not even after the parliaments of the four countries reached an agreement during the Ipko in May. Not good enough for the government of the Netherlands.

Plasterk has however offered an alternative. The Caribbean countries have turned it down, but we think that it is worth giving it a shot.

The proposal was to put all disputes between the Kingdom countries to the Council of State for a trial period of a couple of years. The findings of the council would go to the Kingdom Council of Ministers that then would have to take a decision.

The Caribbean countries smelled a big rat there. They thought that this way, the Dutch would find a way to simply ignore any advice the council of state would present by coming up with some bogus argument. Plasterk said yesterday that something like that would never happen. The Kingdom Council of Ministers is not going to take a decision after the Council of State has declared it unlawful, he said.

Sounds good, nuh? But when there is no trust between Dutch and Caribbean counterparts it is hard to take such a statement at face value. We always figure that there is a trick somewhere down the line that will make us feel very sorry for agreeing to such a scheme.

However: right now, we have nothing. If there is a dispute, and things get really ugly, the Kingdom Council of Ministers brings down the hammer with yet another instruction.

Plasterk’s proposal could be worth a try, as long as we get an agreement whereby the trial period is limited to, say, three years. If it does not work out to everyone’s satisfaction, we could always sink the initiative and go back to the negotiation table, where we have been for the past five years trying to agree on the dispute regulation.

This way, we have to least shown our good will, while we keep all options open in case the system does not work out. As the saying goes – half an egg is better than an empty shell.

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