Dutch back down over Polish immigrant slur

Published on 2 March 2011 at 11:34

“The Dutch government has apologised for suggestions about expelling unemployed Poles from the Netherlands,” Gazeta Wyborcza reports with satisfaction, referring to a statement by Dutch labour minister Henk Kamp, who in mid-February said that “homeless and unemployed immigrants from Eastern Europe should be sent home, and if they don’t want to go, they should be expelled”. It was clear that Mr Kamp meant Poles, who are by far the largest group among the estimated 160,000-200,000 economic migrants in the Netherlands. According to official figures, Poles account for 40 percent of residents in some homeless shelters. “More and more politicians have been resorting to populist slogans by claiming that Poles are flooding the Dutch labour market”, notes the Warsaw daily. The official reaction from Warsaw was quick and firm. According to Wyborcza, European minister Mikołaj Dowgielewicz has been assured by Uri Rosenthal, Dutch foreign minister and adviser to prime minister Mark Rutte, that Mr Kemp’s words are “not official policy but the minister’s private initiative”. Polish intervention with EU Vice-President and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has been equally successful, as she reminded the Hague on 25 February that it was obliged to respect the Union’s principles of the free movement and equal rights for all member states. “Mr Kamp’s statement was apparently part of the campaign before local elections taking place in the Netherlands 2 March,” concludes Gazeta Wyborcza.

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