THE HAGUE —On December 8, the House of Representatives of the Netherlands supported a resolution calling on its government to advocate in Brussels for the temporary suspension of the visa-free regime for Serbia, if Serbia does not align with the visa and foreign policy of the EU.
Although the proposal had the support of the majority of members of the opposition and the government in the Dutch Parliament, during the debate at the initiative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it was agreed that this resolution should not be an official guideline for the Dutch Government at this time.
As the minister explained, the government is currently working on its own document regarding this issue, so this is the official reason why the proposal is still not an instruction for government action within the European Union. It was agreed that the resolution, which received the support of parliamentarians, will be back on the agenda soon, but the exact date has not been announced yet.
The proposal had the support of both the ruling coalition and opposition MPs. It was submitted by MPs from the two largest parties of the ruling coalition, Jeoren van Wijngaarden from the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Sjörd Sjördsma from Democrats 66. However, the proposal was co-initiated by the representative of the opposition Socialist Party (SP), Jasper van Dijk .
MP Jeoren van Wijngaarden shared on Twitter that his proposal received the support of the House of Representatives of the Dutch Parliament.
“House of Representatives supports our proposal for a stricter approach to Serbia if President Vučić does not support sanctions against Russia. Cessation of Serbia’s EU accession process could become an option. We will not hesitate to use it,” said Van Wijngaarden.
The other resolution that was formally adopted in the Dutch Parliament and which represents the official guideline for the Government’s action, is the one calling for the freezing of negotiations with Serbia until the country complies with the sanctions against Russia. During the debate in the Parliament, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands stated that it is certainly not expected for Serbia to make progress in December.
De 2e Kamer steunt onze motie voor een strengere aanpak van Servië als president Vucic zich niet schaart achter de sancties tegen Rusland
Staken van het EU-toetredingsproces van Servië kan een optie worden. We zullen niet aarzelen die in te zetten. https://t.co/U3tYUA5UzR
— Jeroen van Wijngaarden (@vanwijngaardenj) December 8, 2022
The day before the initiation of the resolution in the parliament, State Secretary for Justice and Security Erik van der Burg answered Van Wijngaarden’s parliamentary questions about increased migration through Serbia. He said that the government “shares European Commissioner Johansson’s concern about the increased flow through Serbia and sees the need to oppose the flow through the Western Balkans,” but also welcomes the steps taken by Serbia in terms of harmonization with EU visa policy and will continue to monitor development of the situation, and to exert pressure if necessary.
In the institutional system of the Netherlands, the Parliament has the mandate to give guidelines to the Government for conducting foreign policy. For example, when the Netherlands blocked the opening of negotiations with Albania, the initiative came from the parliament.
The resolution of the Dutch Parliament, which is currently on hold, but not rejected, calls for the suspension of the visa-free regime for Serbia through the emergency brake mechanism by March 2023 the latest, “given that Serbia is increasingly undermining the EU’s foreign policy due to its benevolent attitude towards Russia and non-compliance with EU sanctions.” but also the non-harmonization of the visa regime, which is why during 2022 a large number of irregular migrants crossed into the EU from Serbia.
According to the Treaty of Lisbon, there are two types of this procedure in the European Union. One that is related to the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the other that applies in other areas, such as cooperation in the fight against crime and social security.
In the original version of the text published on the European Western Balkans portal, it was written that the Dutch parliament adopted a resolution proposing the abolition of the visa-free regime for Serbia. Both the ruling coalition and the opposition in parliament agreed with the proposal, but it was frozen for the time being at the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This does not mean that it did not receive the support of Dutch parliamentarians, and that it is not an official request that they made to their government at the Parliament session on December 8.