Opinion: Reasonable conditions to settle down in The Netherlands

POSTED: 03/13/14 1:45 PM

It was to be expected, but the Bosman initiative law that would restrict the admission of Dutch passport holders from St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba to the Netherlands met with plenty of criticism in the Second Chamber yesterday. If Bosman does not present fundamental changes, his proposal will die a justified death.

The key objection for the labor party PvdA is that Bosman discriminates citizens based on origin.

Because you are from St. Maarten you have to meet such and such requirements. At least, that is Bosman’s idea.

Observers in the Netherlands have noted that it cannot be a coincidence that this debate comes about shortly before the municipal elections. The VVD is set to steal seats from the rightwing Freedom Party PVV and this initiative-law seems to be the perfect tool to achieve this. It is of course even more ideal because nobody in the Netherlands will get hurt this way. The victims live far away and who cares about them anyway?

It is a bit like the fear by Canadians during the Cold War that they would become the battlefield for a war between Russia and the United States.

Let us be a bit realistic here. Bosman is correct when he says that Dutch citizens (those who live on the other side of the ocean) also have to meet certain requirements when they want to settle down on the islands. The main reason for those rules is obviously that the islands are small and that an invasion by the Dutch would harm chances for locals in the job market. Fair enough.

But we also have the Dutch American Friendship Treaty. That gives American citizens the freedom to settle down in St. Maarten, or anywhere else in the Kingdom if they meet a few specific conditions. They must be able to support themselves (so they must have money in the bank), they must have health insurance, they must have a roof over their head and they must have a clean police record.

If these are reasonable conditions under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty, why would they not be reasonable for citizens from St. Maarten, Curacao, and Aruba who want to settle down in the Netherlands?

One way or another, the Dutch will find a way to restrict access to their country by Dutch passport holders from our islands. It could take some time, but they will get there. It is time to take actively part in that discussion in a constructive way. Get away from the discrimination war cry, and look at what is reasonable. We would not want to be overrun by junkies from Amsterdam in Philipsburg either.

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