Dutch divided on new EU migration pact, and the election will heighten divisions

Refugees in the Netherlands are protesting about the delays in processing their claims. Photo: Refugee demonstration team

The European Union’s long-awaited migration pact is broadly in line with the Dutch government’s wishes, the NRC said in an analysis on Thursday.

The new pact aims to streamline the asylum process and EU officials hope it will create faster border screening at the bloc’s external borders while allowing members states to opt out of taking in refugees.

The EU’s 27 states have long been divided about how to deal with refugees and migrants, but the issue came to a head in 2015, when over a million people came to Europe, mainly via Greece and Italy.

The commission proposals propose compulsory pre-entry screening, to be followed by a border asylum process which would take no more than 12 weeks. Failed applicants would be returned more swiftly.

Member states will have flexible options for involvement, so countries like Hungary and Poland, which have refused to take in refugees, would be required to help by providing operational support and sponsoring returns.


The NRC says the decision to carry out checks at the EU’s external borders meets Dutch demands at present. But the current unity within the coalition is likely to be disturbed in the campaign for the March 2021 general election, and migration will have a key role.

‘Although the four-party coalition speaks with one voice, there are major ideological divisions,’ the paper said. ‘The VVD is the toughest and wants to limit migration through asylum as much as possible. In March, the party will be competing with the PVV and FVD, which both want to close the borders to immigrants altogether.’

‘The CDA is equally tough, but the party has a large group who favour a more generous position. D66 and ChristenUnie would both rather bring in more people, including from the Moria camp in Greece which burned to the ground.’


Dutch MEPs are equally divided on the issue. PvdA MEP Kati Piri said solidarity is not just about supporting member states, but also helping the people in desperate need of protection. ‘We cannot turn our back on vulnerable people and we need member states to take their responsibility,’ Piri said.

‘For the new Pact on Migration and Asylum to be a real game changer, there needs to be a permanent mandatory relocation mechanism in place. This is the only way to improve the situation on the ground and improve mutual trust among member states.’

CDA MEP Jeroen Lenaers said he ‘cautiously positive’ about the plans, particularly plans to speed up the registration procedure. ‘Making a difference between real refugees and economic migrants within five days is a plus,’ he told broadcaster NOS. ‘Crossing the sea should no longer automatically mean entry to the EU.’

Ad hoc solidarity

But GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik said she feared the new plans would do nothing to stop camps like Moria becoming too full. ‘It is ad hoc solidarity, without a requirement to take in refugees,’ she said.

And D66’s Sophie in ‘t Veld said that the EU needs to be pragmatic and look ahead. ‘We urgently need solutions,’ she said. ‘This package is not perfect, and I think everybody will recognise that.’

Now the commission’s plans have been published, member states themselves can have their say – although the Dutch position may be more fragile in the run up to next year’s vote.

On Wednesday, the NRC pointed out, GroenLinks MP Bram van Ojik appeared to kick of the discussions by calling on the Netherlands to seize a key role in the European migration debate.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.

Football news:

Borussia Gladbach coach in de Champions League: we hadden 4-6 punten kunnen hebben. We zijn hier niet alleen om deel te nemen
Bulykin over de Champions League: Ik wil Loko op zijn minst op de derde plaats zien om hun wedstrijden in Europese competities in de lente te bekijken
Liverpool speelde voor het eerst op nul in de eerste twee ronden in de Champions League groep
Felix scoorde twee goals voor Red Bull. Alleen Aguero was jonger toen hij in de Champions League speelde voor Attico, waar hij twee doelpunten scoorde in een groepsfase. De Portugezen scoorden tegen de Oostenrijkers op de leeftijd van 20 jaar en 252 dagen. Alleen Sergio Aguero was jonger dan Felix in de geschiedenis van de Madrid club toen hij een dubbele in het toernooi deed. Argentinië was toen 20 jaar en 106 dagen oud
Rybus about 1:2 met Bayern: Loko probeerde voetbal te spelen, niet alleen zitten in de verdediging en schop de bal naar voren
Real Madrid is de vierde in de groep. We verloren tot de 93e minuut na het dubbele van onze zoon tyuram (hij begon in Barcelona)
Het is belangrijk om niet te imponeren, maar te scoren. Een andere kracht van de Loco naar de woorden van Nikolic na de wedstrijd