Saturday

4th Feb 2023

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.

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