The Netherlands does not want to consent to Croatia's accession to the Schengen area of passport-free movement because it has a caretaker government, the Croatian Vecernji List daily said in its Tuesday issue.
The Slovenian EU Presidency has put conclusions on Croatia’s readiness to join the Schengen area on the tentative agenda of the next meeting of the EU interior ministers, but the daily has learned from unofficial sources that the Netherlands is signalling it may not be ready to support a decision to that effect.
The conclusions in question do not constitute a final decision on Croatia’s admission to Schengen, but are the penultimate step. With the conclusions in question, the Council of the EU confirms in writing what the European Commission has already stated, namely that Croatia has met all the technical requirements for entry to the passport-free travel area.
The final political decision is yet to be made. It will be a special decision of the Council, adopted after the Council consults with the European Parliament. That political decision, however, cannot be made if the conclusions have not been adopted. The Slovenian government plans to have this done before the end of its presidency on December 31, when EU presidency will be taken over by France.
However, according to unofficial sources, at a meeting of the COREPER (Permanent Representatives Committee), the Netherlands expressed reservations on the matter even before a more detailed debate has been launched.
Its representatives justified this with the fact that the Netherlands currently has a caretaker government, which is why it would prefer not having to make a decision on such a sensitive matter.
The Dutch went to the polls in March this year and negotiations on a new ruling coalition are still underway. This is the longest period of talks on government formation in the history of Dutch democracy.
A Dutch source confirmed that the country’s position on the expansion of the Schengen area had always been more critical and cautious, notably regarding respect for fundamental rights at the borders that should become the new external borders of the Schengen area.
Asked about the country’s current position on the specific issue of conclusions that would be adopted in December and the confirmation Croatia’s readiness to join the Schengen area, the source said there is no final position and that it is still being worked on, the daily said.
Another source, familiar with closed-door talks in the Council of the EU, has said that the Dutch are showing good will and sincerely want to help and cooperate with the Slovenian Presidency to reach a consensus on the adoption of the conclusions, according to Vecernji List.