Published On: Fri, Nov 30th, 2012

Apply EU free movement rules to islands, says Hirsch Ballin

THE HAGUE, WILLEMSTAD – Apply the same regulations that the European Union (EU) has on the movement of persons to regulate passenger traffic in the Dutch Kingdom.

That is the opinion of Member of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, former Minister of Justice and of Home and Kingdom Affairs and University of Tilburg Professor Ernst Hirsch Ballin, a guest speaker at InterExpo's 16th trade mission in Eindhoven this week.

The movement of persons between the countries of the Kingdom should in principle be free. There should be no restrictions on the admittance of persons unless there are very pressing reasons to refuse someone entry or to send someone back, said Hirsch Ballin.

An exception clause would be made for individuals who pose a severe threat to public order and national safety. In that case, the person would be sent back to the last country where he or she resided. But this is a highly unusual and exceptional situation, he added.

Hirsch Ballin said the free movement of persons within the EU would be a "good alternative" to the plans of the Dutch Government to regulate the admittance of poorly educated people from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten by setting conditions when they want to register at a municipality in The Netherlands. Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman had submitted an initiative law to regulate this.

The Bosman initiative law is based on reciprocity. The Dutch Caribbean has restrictions in place for the admittance of people from The Netherlands to protect the small, more fragile local economies against too large an influx.

Hirsch Ballin's suggestion is also based on reciprocity where there would be no limitations on either side of the ocean. He mentioned the advantages of having open borders in the EU, whereby people and goods can freely move from one country to the next. He said people were happy that the costly, time-consuming and inefficient border control posts between the EU countries had been discontinued years ago.

The former Minister also addressed the relations in the Kingdom, the guarantee function and the issue of Curaçao's independence. He said that people often spoke negatively about the Kingdom. "Unfortunately there is so much negativity – as if the Kingdom is the past, whereas it has so many possibilities for the future." He said that "mistrust" was the "venom" in the Kingdom.

Statements by the "megaphone politicians" in Curaçao, certain politicians in The Netherlands and the past independence fighters in Aruba about the disintegration of the Kingdom and independence for the overseas countries never led to anything concrete, he said.

"They say, 'Yes independence, but we want to keep the Queen, the Dutch passport and the Supreme Court.' That is non-independence. That would be the end of the discussion and we would move on," said Hirsch Ballin. He didn't believe that the Kingdom would cease to exist any time soon. He called on people to "stop seeing the history as bad fate," but to consider the Kingdom as the future.

According to Hirsch Ballin, the election results in Curaçao should not automatically be seen as a call for independence. He pointed out that people can also use the elections to voice their discontent about their government. He did say that the voices of those who want independence should be taken seriously. On the other hand, cooperation has more future than turning your back to the world, he added.

The guarantee function, articles 43 and 52 in the Kingdom Charter, is generally viewed with mistrust and it has a negative association. "People think it is something bad. The fact is that it was always called in when it was too late. If you take the guarantee function seriously, don't use it when the calf has already drowned."

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