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Dutch borders remain closed to Eastern Europeans until 2012

Broad support for policy

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - A broad majority in the Second Chamber wants to keep Dutch borders closed to Romanian and Bulgarian labour migrants for another three years.

Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner initially wanted to remove restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian labour migrants as of January 1, 2009 but decided to postpone the opening of the borders for labourers from the newest EU-countries until at least July 1, 2009. The Second Chamber indicated that the date was too soon.

Both the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Labour (PvdA) coalition parties and a broad range of other parties, from the ideologue Socialist Party (SP) to the conservative liberal (VVD) and rightwing populist Party for Freedom (PVV) favoured keeping the borders for Romanians and Bulgarians closed for another three years. Residents of Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU last year, currently still require a work permit in the Netherlands. Under EU agreements, they can be kept from moving in until 2014 at the latest.

The CDA also raised concerns over the extent to which increasing numbers of East European workers draw on social security provisions, such as unemployment benefits and welfare. Along with other parties, the CDA asked the minister to investigate if unemployment benefits (WW) and welfare benefits can be blocked to stop Eastern Europeans from flocking to countries where wages and social security benefits are higher.