Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Dutch diplomat: 'Is there a mini-Schengen plan? No'

  • Is the EU shrinking? Visitors at the mini-Europe theme park in Brussels (Photo: Miguel Discart)

The Netherlands has “no plan” for a so-called mini-Schengen area of north-western EU countries, its top diplomat in Brussels said on Monday (30 November).

But the "concept" is being floated, possibly as a threat to eastern EU members which are reluctant to take in refugees.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The term “mini-Schengen” emerged earlier this month when Dutch newspaper reports said Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands might take the step.

The reports added the concept has been floated at lower diplomatic level as an alternative to the current 26-country Schengen area, which is facing unprecedented streams of migration.

Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem also told Dutch TV on Friday (27 November) there is lack of solidarity in the EU with those countries which are the main destinations for migrants - the richer nations in the north-west of the bloc.

He said “mini-Schengen” could be a fall-back plan if no solution is reached for “sharing the enormous burden of the influx of asylum seekers.”

“We’ll try to find solutions with 28 [EU member] countries. But if we fail - and it is difficult - then the Netherlands may have to take measures together with countries in a similar position,” said Dijsselbloem, who is also the head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers.

Het said mini-Schengen is “a concept to think about in case those 28 countries do not reach a solution.”

Some wonder why France is not being included in the mini-group. Dijsselbloem, in a separate interview with several European newspapers, also listed Sweden instead of Luxembourg in the group-of-five, even though Sweden doesn’t border any of the other four.

“Mini-Schengen does not even exist yet,” the Dutch minister said.

“There is no defined size of mini-Schengen. It does show that we are thinking about solutions that we do not want, but that we may have to find.”

Dijsselbloem's statements could be interpreted more as a threat to eastern members of the EU, some of whom have been reluctant to take part in the EU's relocation scheme, than as a real initiative.

Poland, for one, is taking it seriously.

“We don’t want these tensions inside the EU to be used as a pretext for suspending or restricting the Schengen area,” its EU affairs minister, Konrad Szymasnki, said at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on Sunday.

But Pieter de Gooijer, the Dutch ambassador to the EU, on Monday denied the scheme has any tangibility.

“There is no plan [by] us - I cannot speak for others - to organise, or to set up, or to go to a mini-Schengen,” he told press at a seminar organised by the European Policy Centre (EPC), a think tank in the EU capital.

“Is there a plan for a mini-Schengen? No,” De Gooijer said.

He added, however, that “it's very normal practice in the Union” to discuss political problems with countries in “similar positions.”

More home affairs meetings

De Gooijer, at the EPC event, also outlined The Netherlands’ priorities for its six-month EU presidency, starting on 1 January.

He noted that justice and home affairs ministers will meet more often, to increase trust between capitals.

“Normally, in a spring presidency, you have three justice and home affairs Council meetings. One informal, in the presidency country, and two formal ones here in Brussels. The way we’re planning things now, we're going to have six,” he said.

“This is an area where definitely the next six months, and probably the next 12 or 18 months, a lot of the political decisions and legislative work in the Union has to be done,” said De Gooijer.

“By increasing the number of meetings, thus increasing the intensity at the political level of those responsible for migration and security, one forces a process of continuous exchange of not only views, but also checking the progress made by the others and made by oneself,” he noted.

“We hope this intensifying of the contacts will establish … that we are making more real progress.”

EU agrees on Schengen checks for all

EU "collective reaction must be ruthless," said French minister, as controls are to be stepped up for migrants and EU nationals.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap