Friday

3rd Feb 2023

MEPs unite over Dutch anti-immigrant hotline

  • MEPs united in condemning the anti-immigrant website set up by Geert Wilders' far-right party (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

MEPs from across the political spectrum have united against an anti-immigrant internet hotline set up by the party of controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Deputies from all political groups - aside from the nationalist EFD group - backed a resolution on Thursday (15 March) describing the website as an “ill-intentioned initiative aimed at creating divisions within the society and obtaining political gains to the detriment of workers from Central and Eastern Europe.”

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte came in for criticism too. Unusually, the reproach also came from fellow members of Alde group. Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt described Rutte's lack of action as "unacceptable," with the prime minister reliant on Wilders' PVV party for its majority in the Dutch parliament.

The resolution calls on the Dutch government to “condemn and distance themselves from this deplorable initiative.”

Wilders launched the "Meldpunt Midden en Oost Europeanen" hotline in February. It urges people to report complaints caused by the "massive labour migration" of "Middle or Eastern European citizens", in particular Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians. It asks whether potential complainants have experienced any problems in terms of antisocial behaviour or lost their job to migrants from the former Eastern bloc.

PVV MEP Auke Zijlstra insisted that the website was a necessary response to the effects of the 2004 EU enlargement, when eight former Eastern Bloc countries joined the EU, which he claimed had seen countries joining the EU "before they were ready".

"The Brussels elite are responsible for the importing of criminality from Eastern Europe" he said, adding that more than 100,000 people had accessed the website.

The PVV, which campaigns on a ticket of euroscepticism and hostility to immigration, has gained increasing support among Dutch voters in recent years, emerging as the third largest party at both the national and European elections.

The five MEPs elected under the PVV banner at the 2009 elections do not sit in any of the Parliament’s political groups,

It is unusual for Parliament resolutions condemning practices in an individual member state to be backed by all the main party groups.

Since the 2009 elections, attempts to back resolutions attacking Italy's former leader, Silvio Berlusconi, and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, were defeated with the centre-right EPP and centre-left Socialist and Democrat group unable to agree a text.

EU funding for the far-right

Meanwhile, the Parliament's political group leaders have announced that they will launch a review of the financing of pan-European political parties, with a view to halting funds for far-right parties.

The agreement by the Conference of Presidents comes following outcry after it was revealed that a pan-European party including the far-right British National Party and its Hungarian counterpart Jobbik had received nearly €300,000 in EU funds.

The group leaders are likely to seek to amend the guidelines for funding so that eligible parties are required to observe the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law in the EU.

Dutch far right opens anti-Polish hotline

The Dutch far-right Freedom Party, a key ally of the centre-right coalition government, on Wednesday opened up a website to collect complaints about people from Central and Eastern Europe residing in The Netherlands.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

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