Dutch blogger in Bulgaria Koos Jan Schouten wrote this week:
"Karel van Kesteren, Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria, confirmed Monday his country’s position and intentions to block Bulgaria’s joining of the Schengen zone. After a meeting with the candidates for president and vice president from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, Rosen Plevneliev, and Margarita Popova, the diplomat reiterated the Netherlands government would not agree on lifting border control on the grounds of the conclusions of the European Commission’s July report under the monitoring and verification mechanism in the area of justice and home affairs."Paavo Väyrynen the Finnish Centre party's future presidential candidate said today:
"We could have blocked [accession] together with countries like Germany and France but it was unwise to oppose it with the Netherlands alone."To claim that the Dutch coalition government is held hostage by extreme-right PVV, as the Romanian government claims, is not a very smart statement. It's exactedly what the Dutch coalition likes to hear: blame Geert Wilders, not us.
The Dutch government's decision to veto the accession is backed by a parliamentary majority. The parliamentary majority which we are dealing with is the Dutch Coalition of CDA, VVD and the party PVV which backs the coalition on the condition of adherence to a "toleration agreement". This "toleration agreement" says about Bulgarian and Romanian accession to Schengen, as Dutch Foreign Affairs minister Uri Rosenthal quoted in parliament in december 8th 2010 in answer to questions by his own party MP's Van Nieuwenhuizen en Ten Broeke:
"As stated in the coalition, the government in fact that the Schengen evaluation of Romania and Bulgaria to the biennial progress reports on corruption and legal reform in these countries are involved. If these reports show that they do not meet the strict criteria, Netherlands does not support full membership of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen and the removal of internal border controls within the EU. Bulgaria and Romania are then - because the decision should be taken on the basis of unanimity - are not allowed to Schengen."The Dutch newspaper volkskrant claimed last week that Part of the Dutch Coalition agreement is the statement that the Netherlands would veto the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen if a report on fighting crime and corruption would not show sufficient progress. This report came out this summer and stated that the two countries hadn't done enough. In line with the coalition agreement, the Dutch coalition vetoes the accession. This is not completely correct, it's the separate agreement with Geert Wilders' PVV that makes it impossible for the Dutch government to not veto the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen in this context.
D66, a small Dutch opposition party opposed the Dutch government's position in his questions to parliament september 15th. I have searched for a statement on this important matter by leading opposition party PvdA. The ChristenUnie's EU MP Peter van Dalen writes in support of the ruling Dutch coalition:
"These countries are joined too fast and that corruption has resulted in all the wrong pockets are filled with European money. So long as corruption remains stabbing at current levels, we can not conclude the negotiations with Croatia, it's that simple."Judith Sargentini, GroenLinks member of the EU parliament commented on the Dutch veto:
"It is hard to see this veto by Finland and the Netherlands as anything other than cynical populist grandstanding. Bulgaria and Romania have fulfilled the conditions required for their membership of Schengen, going to great lengths to do so, so there are no legitimate reasons for refusing their entry to the border-free zone.Jerzy Miller, the interior minister of Poland, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers stated yesterday:
Two member states today made it impossible for us to take a decision on Schengen enlargement,” Miller told a news conference. “This leads me to rather sad conclusions about mutual trust among member states.”The leader of the European People's Party in the European parliament Joseph Daul denounced what he called "the populist attitude" of the Dutch and Finnish governments to block Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria.
“Bulgaria and Romania were promised that if they fulfilled all the requirements they would be accepted, and since April this year we know that all these conditions have been complied with,” Miller said. “In my understanding, mutual trust also means keeping promises.”
“Today, the promise that was included in the accession treaty [of Bulgaria and Romania] has been broken,” Miller said. “I don't believe that this is what the solidarity principle is about.”
Two Dutch CDA members, Wim van de Camp and Esther de Lange, members of this European People's Party in the European parliament criticized Romania for blocking trucks at the border, supposedly in retaliation for the Dutch veto.
A a former Dutch Christian Democrat CDA Youth President claimed that blocking the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU's borderless Schengen area was a good move referencing to a vote in parliament in 2006, when the CDA voted against accession of Romania to the EU. Geert Wilders made the claim Bulgaria and Romania should leave the EU in the run up to the 2010 election.
The reactions by leading politican of the Polish governing party "civic platform" echo the previous strong clashes with the ruling Dutch coalition. Jerzy Burzek, President of EU Parliament, @jerzyburzek:
"I regret today's delay inOn behalf of the Polish EU presidency, Interior Minister Jerzy Miller issued a strongly-worded statement, regretting the positions of the Netherlands and Finland:
#Romania and #Bulgaria Schengen accession. I call for fairness and European solidarity."
"This evokes in me above all rather sad conclusions on mutual trust between EU member states," he stated. "We live in hard times, hard also for the EU. Such moments require that we support each other. Today, some lacked the courage to say that we want to do it together and not separately."Bulgaria will reconsider its support for the reforms of the Schengen Agreement if it decides it is getting unfair treatment over its application for the visa-free area Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov announced in Sofia.
The Dutch Romanian Network has expressed its disagreement with the decision of the Dutch government regarding the refusal by veto of the entry of Romania into the Schengen zone, announced the network, speaking on behalf of the Dutch business community:
“We would like to ask all involved members of the government(s) to break the deadlock in the negotiations. We propose a more pragmatic path. In this scope we would like to draw the attention to the compromise of Germany and France, they proposed a two-step scenario”Yesterday was the first tangible Geert Wilders victory in Dutch politics, but both CDA and VVD in parliament support this part of the "toleration agreement" just as much. They put it in the "toleration agreement" to be able to blame Geert Wilders while sitting in Brussels, claiming just as much credit for it at home, it seems.
The decision has been moved to the EU- summit. But I don't see how that summit can change anything, as Gerd Leers reiterated this week:
"I don't know what's going to happen at the October summit but as I said already for us the content is leading and if there is no new content and no new information regarding the progress of the content it's useless to discuss it again. So first we want to see results in a better performance and the next CVM report can show us."