Rutte defends migration policy against own party criticism
Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD/Renew) addressed criticism from members of his own party for lack of a clear-cut plan on the country’s migration crisis during a party congress on Saturday, stating he remains cautions to ensure ‘stability of the cabinet’.
Members of Rutte’s party had recently grown impatient over the management of the crisis, with some even stating that they would accept a fall of the current cabinet in order to resolve the issue.
“The number of people coming to the Netherlands really needs to come down. Seventy thousand asylum seekers our country cannot cope with. We can’t,” said VVD parliamentary leader Sophie Hermans.
“Mark, hurry up. I feel that our ministers cannot go on holiday before there is a serious package,” she added.
Rutte defended himself by maintaining that the stability and survival of the current cabinet are crucial for the party. “If I had done it faster, I would have taken irresponsible risks to the stability of the cabinet,” Rutte stated during the congress, according to NOS.
“If we leave the cabinet now, we can forget about the next election. We won’t [do that],” he added.
The cabinet’s migration policy is stalling due to disagreements within the coalition – while the VVD and Christen-Democratisch Appél (EPP) advocate for a stricter approach, coalition partners D66 (Renew) and ChristenUnie (CU/EPP) are looking to focus on a humane policy and to respect international agreements.
“Be honest about what works and don’t come up with tough plans that don’t work,” CU party leader Mirjam Bikker addressed her coalition partners during a party congress in Apeldoorn on Saturday.
“So cabinet: get to work, make agreements in Europe, work on safe routes, especially for the most vulnerable, and make agreements with countries of origin,” Bikker added.
Just last week, Rutte reiterated his intention to visit Tunisia with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (FdI/ECR) and Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen to discuss a potential migration deal with the country.
Rutte promised during his speech that the cabinet would have a tangible package of measures “in a few weeks”.
(Benedikt Stöckl | EURACTIV.com)