Dutch MPs advocating free movement between islands

THE HAGUE--Six parties in the Second Chamber, representing a majority, have prepared a motion which seeks the facilitation of free movement of persons and goods between the Dutch Caribbean islands.

The motion has to do with the economic restrictions that are a result of the changed constitutional relations in the Kingdom and the fact that there are now four autonomous countries in the Kingdom: Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands.

Traffic between the Dutch Caribbean countries has been qualified as international since the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles as per October 10, 2010. This has adverse effects on the free movement of persons and goods, whereas in the past there were few or no restrictions.

The governing liberal democratic VVD party, its coalition partner the Christian Democratic Party CDA and opposition parties Labour Party PvdA, green left party GroenLinks, democratic D66 party and Christian Union (CU) want the Dutch Government to discuss the possibilities to eliminate the restrictions on movement of persons and goods between its Kingdom partners.

The six parties want the governments to tackle six issues: the prevention of double taxation on in-transit goods, the installation of a joint Customs association, the harmonisation of airport tax for flights between the islands, priority handling for Dutch passport holders at airports, the possibility to travel between the islands with an ID card or a pre-clearance, and the possibility of a ferry connection between Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

Member of Parliament (MP) André Bosman (VVD), who took the initiative for the motion, has requested a debate with Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies to submit the motion.

The minister received a copy during Monday's meeting so she can discuss Parliament's wish list with the governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten later this week and next week. The motion was co-signed by Bas Jan van Bochove (CDA), Martijn van Dam (PvdA), Ineke van Gent (GroenLinks), Wassila Hachchi (D66) and Cynthia Ortega-Martijn (CU).

It proved technically impossible to have a debate with Spies before she leaves for the islands this Thursday.

The motion does not affect movement of persons and goods to the Netherlands or the negotiations between the countries to regulate the movement of persons in the Kingdom and to the Netherlands, the so-called Rijkswet Personenverkeer.

(Source: The Daily Herald)

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