Brussels Warns It Will Not Allow The Netherlands To Opt Out Of EU Rules And Implement Its ‘Strictest-Ever’ Asylum Policy

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Brussels Warns It Will Not Allow The Netherlands To Opt Out Of EU Rules And Implement Its 'Strictest-Ever' Asylum Policy

The incoming Dutch government, led by nationalist Geert Wilders’ PVV party, aims to pursue its immigration restrictions by opting out of European Union migration rules, setting up a clash with Brussels before taking office.

Wilders won an election nearly six months ago and reached a coalition deal on Wednesday with three right-wing partners. He has not proposed his choice for prime minister but has ruled himself out.

In its government plan published early on Thursday, the four-party coalition states it will pursue the “strictest-ever asylum regime” with enhanced border controls and stricter rules for asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands. “An opt-out clause for European asylum and migration policies will be submitted as soon as possible to the European Commission,” the coalition says in its pact.

Wilders stated the plan would make the Netherlands less attractive for asylum seekers, adding that “people in Africa and the Middle East will start thinking they might be better off elsewhere.”

The Netherlands would join Hungary and Poland’s previous nationalist governments in challenging EU migration policy. Brussels is likely to resist, as EU countries have already agreed on their migration pact, and opt-outs are usually discussed in the negotiating phase. “We have a new pact on migration and asylum, which has been voted upon and confirmed and therefore has to be applied,” said EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer at a press briefing in Brussels. “This legislation will be applied, and the commission will play its role in making sure it is.”

The Dutch coalition parties also announced plans to curb labor migration and tighten admission requirements for foreign students at Dutch universities. Non-EU workers without specific knowledge or expertise would need a work permit, and recruitment agencies will face stricter regulations. The coalition also aims to restrict free movement for people from future EU accession countries.

The tech industry association FME, which represents firms including semiconductor industry leader ASML, expressed concern that such measures could hinder tech firm hiring.

Regarding climate change, the coalition pledged to adhere to internationally agreed goals but would not impose additional national restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. Offshore gas production in the North Sea would be increased, and plans to build four nuclear reactors in the coming decade would proceed.

The new government also plans to cut spending by 14 billion euros ($15.22 billion) through 2028, including reductions of 2.5 billion euros in development aid, 1 billion euros in government salaries, and 100 million euros from the public broadcaster’s budget. The Netherlands will continue to provide political and military support to Ukraine and intends to legally mandate spending at least 2 percent of Dutch GDP on defense, in accordance with NATO agreements.

Later on Thursday, Wilders told AFP that it could take “years” for the Netherlands’ new government to fulfill its pledge to opt out of the EU asylum system but vowed that the nation would enforce its strictest asylum policy ever.

After finalizing a coalition deal that took six months to negotiate, Wilders said, “We will try to get a so-called opt-out for asylum, as the Danish have. That might take years if it is successful anyway.” Denmark negotiated an agreement to exempt itself from common EU asylum policies, and the new Dutch government plans to request the same from the European Commission as soon as possible.

In the short term, Wilders said the new right-wing government would use Dutch law to restrict what he called an “influx of asylum-seekers” in the Netherlands. “What we have today in our agreement is really the most tough anti-asylum (policy) ever being implemented in the Netherlands,” he told AFP.

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