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Cabinet negotiators to discuss declaring a refugee “crisis”
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One of the options which the four parties in talks on forming a new coalition will discuss on Tuesday is declaring that there is a refugee “crisis”, sources have told broadcaster NOS.

If the situation is considered a crisis and the country is unable to cope, then ministers would be able to take far-reaching measures to reduce the number of asylum seekers coming to the Netherlands, including a temporary stop, the sources said. 

Far-right leader Geert Wilders has said repeatedly he would prefer to close the borders to asylum seekers altogether and that he is not prepared to compromise. The VVD and BBB also want to see cuts in the numbers – currently around 1,000 a week – but Pieter Omtzigt and the NSC stress the need to respect international treaties that the Netherlands has signed.

Last time the issue of asylum was on the negotiating table, Wilders walked out, telling reporters he had “finished making concessions”. 

The four parties are also looking at placing limits on family members and further reducing the facilities at centres for people from safe third countries whose claims for asylum must be assessed but are almost certain to fail. This, the sources suggest, is to make the Netherlands less attractive for refugees in general.

In 2022, the VVD asked refugee minister Eric van der Burg to look into the options for declaring a refugee crisis. He told parliament at the time this would only be possible if there was a real emergency, such as war. 

Van der Burg, who has been grappling to cope with the shortage of accommodation for asylum seekers, also told MPs that most of the regulation governing how refugees are dealt with in the Netherlands is derived from Brussels and the options to restrict numbers are limited.

The four party leaders, who have said they expect the talks to continue through the May holidays, will also discuss government finances during Tuesday’s meeting, NOS said.

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