Thursday, 26 May 2011
She told Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad on Tuesday that the European Commission has begun a dialogue with the right-wing government. Ms Malmström, who was on a visit to the Netherlands, is convinced that existing regulations "offer some scope" to improve the handling of social problems relating to integration.

The Dutch government wants to limit immigration aimed at family reunification, where immigrants are joined by family members who had stayed behind in the home country. The proposed changes, inspired by the anti-Islam, pro-government Freedom Party, require changes in EU rules.

Commissioner Malmström points out that the Netherlands is the only country which is insisting on such changes. "I'm aware it is a major issue in the Netherlands. That's not what I hear in other member states."


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PVV leader Geert Wilders says, "I warn Minister Leers that the Freedom Party signed for a whole support agreement and not half an agreement."

The PVV lends parliamentary support to the minority government in exchange for stricter immigration legislation. A separate support agreement stipulating the PVV's demands was drafted alongside the coalition agreement when the coalition was formed last summer.

In this agreement, the Dutch government says it will tighten immigration rules, but to do so it needs support from other European countries. The European Commissioner for Migration Cecilia Malström spoke about the issue with Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers on Wednesday in The Hague.

Ms Malström says other European countries are not demanding the changes the Netherlands wants to see. The Dutch government wants to raise the age to 24 for partners joining spouses in the Netherlands, impose a limit of allowing entrance to one partner per ten years and enforce tighter rules on migrants' income.

According to Mr Wilders, the European Commissioner's opinion is "not relevant". He says, "The support agreement has to be honoured, only then will we support the government and the 18 billion euros in cuts. Let that be clear."

Ms Malström is in the process of drafting a 'green book' with recommendations on family reunion for the European Parliament.

In an interview with Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier, she warned against populism.

"If normal politicians from normal parties – I am not talking about extremist parties – carry out a populist agenda by blaming everything bad on migrants, we are in a very dangerous situation."

Ms. Malström added that we have seen in the past what this can lead to in Europe.


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