‘Christian Democrats and Labour Party have doubts over open borders’

16 February 2006

‘Christian Democrats and Labour Party have doubts over open borders’

The Christian Democrats of the CDA, and the PvdA (Labour Party), who together form a majority in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament, are beginning to have doubts about the further opening of borders to workers from eastern Europe. Describing the change of heart as "superfluous", SP Member of Parliament Jan De Wit pointed out that "the report commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs from research bureau Ecorys should settle the matter."

Jan de WitMr De Wit said that: "The report confirms that the inflow of people, particularly from Poland, is set to double. That this will lead to displacement of workers, hit wages, undermine conditions of employment in sectors such as building, road transport and haulage and for workers on temporary contracts, is more than probable. The CDA and the PvdA would do working people, children and young people in vocational training in the Netherlands a service by keeping controls on this inflow."

The researchers are refusing to commit themselves when it comes to the reliability of their figures. Commenting on this, De Wit said that "in judging the consequences of opening borders we shouldn't only rely on Ecorys's uncertain statistics. We should also look at the countries which removed controls some time ago. In Ireland, according to a recent opinion poll, 78% of the population favours the reintroduction of work permits in order to put the brakes on the current influx of 170,000 people from eastern Europe. British trade unions are citing an increasing number of cases of underpayment and exploitation and are calling for limits on the inflow."

De Wit also has his doubts about the Ecorys report's figures. "If the Netherlands lifts restrictions and Germany holds on to them, the influx will be much bigger than estimated and the disruptive consequences that we're already seeing will become still greater."

As De Wit points out, this is also a problem for Poland. "Since the country's accession to the EU, emigration has grown explosively. It's mostly young people with a decent level of education who are leaving, and this is starting to lead to problems in Poland. 14% of Polish employers have to contend with vacancies which are very difficult to fill, and in the building sector the figure is even higher, at 20%. In some areas young people are disappearing, with all the social consequences which that implies. The Polish government now wants to admit people from the Ukraine. What kind of world do we live in when the Irish work in America, the Poles in Ireland and the Ukrainians in Poland?”

In the SP's view there are sufficient reasons not to proceed with the further opening of borders.

You are here