Today, Dutch Parliament has approved a motion to ask the Dutch government to request the European Commission to apply the “emergency break” procedure to suspend the visa exemption of Albania for the Schengen zone. The vote gives off a strong signal that the Dutch Parliament is not impressed with the progress of the Albanian government on dealing with organized crime.
The motion was proposed by MPs Madeleine van Toorenburg (Christian Democrats), Jeroen van Wijngaarden (Liberal Conservatives), Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party), and Nico Drost (Christian Union). The Christian Democrats, Liberal Conservatives, and Christian Union take part in the coalition government of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. It is therefore unlikely that the Dutch government will choose to ignore it.
The chance of the Dutch government’s request finding a majority of EU members to support it are judged to be low, so the approval of the motion is unlikely to have a practical impact on the visa liberalization. However, it gives off a very strong signal that Dutch Parliament will most likely vote against opening EU accession negotiations with Albania in June, no matter how eloquent the upcoming Progress Report of the European Commission will be.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok confirmed in the parliamentary debate regarding the motion last week that the government is against opening of the negotiations:
“Parliament knows that the Netherlands, as regards that ambition [to enter the EU], considers Albania not ready to start accession negotiations, because a big number of steps need to be made to get there. That is the current position of the Netherlands together with a small number of other European countries.”
Within the Dutch media landscape, few have spoken out against the parliamentary motion. Among them former OSCE Ambassador to Albania Robert Bosch, who was hired last year by the Albanian government and the firms behind EURALIUS to moderate a “debate” on Albania’s progress, which rapidly devolved into a paean on the Rama government. Bosch stated back then the need “to convert people” to message of Albania’s progress under Rama.
In an opinion piece published by The Post Online, which otherwise is an outlet for populist right-wing authors, Bosch called the parliamentary debate last a “bad evening for democracy” and claimed that “the government of Albania is doing everything to push back against crime and corruption.” Unsurprisingly, he presented little evidence for his claims.