Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Netherlands to beef up border surveillance

  • The Netherlands is boosting border surveillance (Photo: European Parliament)

Heavily reliant on the anti-immigrant vote, the Dutch government plans to introduce an automatic video-surveillance system along its borders.

From 1 January, the Dutch government will install a network of video cameras in 15 major crossing points with Belgium and Germany, cross-checking all licence plates against stolen car numbers or other suspected cross-border crimes, the Dutch migration ministry told Financial Times Deutschland.

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The European Commission is now checking whether the system is in line with EU law on freedom of movement in the borderless Schengen area consisting of 25 EU and non-EU countries.

The Dutch government has already taken a tough stance on enlarging the Schengen area to Romania and Bulgaria, citing failure to tackle corruption and organised crime. Finland also vetoed the move earlier this year, but has since relaxed its stance.

The Dutch government, however, has indicated it is not likely to change direction any time soon on the issue. But its own own diplomats are angry at the positions they have to defend when negotiating with their EU counterparts.

A mini-rebellion against foreign minister Uri Rosenthal broke out over the weekend, with several diplomats complaining to NRC Handelsblad about what they see as the isolationist policy of their boss. Rosenthal retorted by promising to ban diplomats from speaking to media in the future.

The border plans, meanwhile, look strikingly similar to the ones that were partly introduced in Denmark earlier this year, at the time causing a stir with neighbouring Germany and the EU commission. Also a concession to an anti-immigrant fringe party backing the former government, the 'enhanced customs controls' were rolled back as soon as a centre-left coalition government was swept into power following the September elections.

An evaluation of the Danish video surveillance and random customs checks carried out by the tax authorities found that they were not necessary. They had "not provided a significant increase of seized goods," Jyllands Posten newspaper reported.

Netherlands, Finland oppose Schengen enlargement

An interior ministers' meeting on Thursday is unlikely to approve a phased-in entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the border-free Schengen area, due to Dutch and Finnish concerns about corruption and organised crime.

Denmark's border controls 'insufficiently justified', says commission

The European Commission on Monday warned Denmark it had given insufficient grounds for taking the controversial step of re-introducing border controls and said further EU monitoring is needed. Danish foreign minister Lene Espersen said there was a lot of "misunderstanding" around the issue.

Gains for Wilders' anti-immigration party in Dutch elections

Early results suggest the hard-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders looks set to emerge as the main winner in local elections held in the Netherlands. If Mr Wilders repeats this performance in June, he could become prime minister.

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