Brexit withdrawal agreement: what next for British nationals in NL?


The Brexit withdrawal agreement, which still has to be approved by European leaders, the European parliament and the British parliament, does not appear to contain any improved rights for British nationals living the Netherlands and the rest of the EU. The parts of the withdrawal agreement on citizens rights were agreed in March and have not changed substantially since then. This means British nationals will be able to stay, work and use the healthcare services in the Netherlands but will lose their right to move to another EU country at will. 'What counts is this agreement will country-lock British people where they are living,' Laura Shields, of the British in Europe movement, told broadcaster France 24. 'Four out of five of our members need to cross borders for work.' Nevertheless, the agreement does give some clarity about the rights British nationals will have after March 29 2019. 'This agreement, if it goes through, means all British citizens living in the Netherlands by the end of December 2020 - the end of the transition period - will continue to be entitled to live here,' says immigration lawyer Jeremy Bierbach, of Franssen Advocaten. 'It is always a good plan to apply for a permanent residence document as an EU citizen because it is confirmation of the fact you are here. As the withdrawal agreement states, you will be able to exchange it, free of charge, for whatever new permit they come up with.' In addition, people who have not registered with their local authority, for whatever reason should do so now, Bierbach says. 'You should start collecting evidence about your stay here such as pay slips, jaaropgaven, bank statements, homeowner's insurance and utility bills.' Cliff edge Businessman Stephen Huyton, who has lived in the Netherlands for 23 years, says the deal avoids the ‘cliff edge’ scenario but still has a long way to go. ‘Since the document was published last night and is almost 600 pages long, it’s going to be a case of the devil in the detail. Until the experts have read the documents in full I will reserve judgement,’ he told DutchNews.nl. ‘On a personal note, as I understand it, a UK national will cease to be an EU resident as from end March so will be obliged to use non EU passport lines like somebody from, say, Australia. This is going to be a challenge at Schiphol.’ European parliament Campaigners are now pinning their hopes on the European parliament. Jane Golding, co-chair of the British in Europe group, said in a statement: 'It is now up to the European Parliament, not only to walk the talk on its red lines – free movement in our case – but to put pressure on all sides to ring fence the agreement on citizens’ rights so that 4.6mn people can sleep at night now whatever happens on Brexit.' The Dutch immigration service website continues to state that 'the validity of an EU permanent residence document officially will expire permanently for you on 29 March 2019. After all, on that day British citizens are no longer EU citizens.' DutchNews.nl has asked the IND for comment. You can comment on this story in the section below.  More >



Cut EU immigration, ChristenUnie says

Polish flag with coat of arms The leader of the small orthodox Christian party ChristenUnie has called for limits on the number of immigrants from central and eastern Europe allowed to move to the Netherlands, warning that without action there will be another 'multicultural drama'. Gert-Jan Segers told television current affairs show EenVandaag on Wednesday evening that the arrival of large groups of eastern Europeans is having 'a large impact on local communities and leading to great unease'. According to national statistics office CBS, some 250,000 people from central and eastern Europe are living and working in the Netherlands. Segers says he is worried that many of them will live here for longer and fail to integrate properly into Dutch society. In addition, workers from central and eastern Europe are taking jobs which Dutch people living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods could be doing because they are cheaper, Segers said. ChristenUnie is part of the current four-party Dutch coalition. Just last month, new research by the government's socio-cultural policy unit SCP showed migrant workers only rarely take jobs which were being done by the native Dutch population. ‘Most of the scientific literature on migration also offers no evidence of migration-induced displacement.’ Other research by the SCP shows that despite having jobs and working long hours, Polish nationals earn on average a third less than the Dutch and 17% live in poverty. However, just 1.8% are claiming welfare benefits, compared with 2.6% of the Dutch population as a whole. RTL journalist Joost Vullings who interviewed Segers about the issues pointed out that European elections will take place next May. 'You could say Segers is kicking off the ChristenUnie campaign,' Vullings said. In the interview, Segers also blamed the British Brexit vote on the arrival of large number of Polish and other eastern European workers.   More >


Police want access to refugee fingerprints

Dutch police are calling for easier access to the data base of fingerprints belonging to refugees and undocumented migrants in order to solve more crimes. John Riemen, head of the national force's biometrics centre, says that access would allow the police to catch more burglars and shoplifters, Trouw reported on Thursday. Up to 2002, when police had full access to the data base, it provided one third of all positive matches, Riemen told the paper. The new register which came into being in 2003 contains 700,000 fingerprints as well as more personal details about seven million non-Dutch nationals, including highly-skilled migrants. Police can only access the data base under certain conditions, and a judge has to give access. One condition is that the police suspect that a foreigner may have been involved in a crime. 'It is frustrating not to be able to look in a database that could solve a crime,' Riemen said. This means some categories of criminal, such as terrorist suspects who pose as refugees, remain away from the police radar, he said. Support The two Liberal parties in the current coalition support the idea of giving the police greater access to the database, Trouw said. Critics, however, warn that it is both discriminatory and stigmatising. 'By far the majority of foreigners are not guilty of any crime,' said Inge Hidding, of the Dutch association of asylum lawyers. 'It would be wrong to make them out to be more likely suspects.' Last year a Dutch media investigation found that eight years since European citizens were first required to include a fingerprint scan in their passports, the technology has never been used to check a passenger crossing a border.  More >



Nearly 3,000 cars go up in flames

Almost 3,000 cars have been destroyed by fire in the first nine months of this year, according to insurance company figures. Most were deliberately set on fire and the total is the highest in five years, insurers say. Seven in 10 motorists have insurance against car fires. Most fires take place in the provinces of Zuid-Holland, Noord-Brabant and Noord-Holland but the biggest proportional rise - 34% - was booked in Groningen. In an effort to stop arsonists, insurers are recommending drivers park as close to street lamps as possible. Very few fires are caused by technical failures. A spokesman for the insurers association told DutchNews.nl that most fires appear to be set by lone wolves at night. The regional differences reflect reporting about active pyromaniacs, he said. 'There is no evidence that car owners are increasingly committing fraud.'  More >


Painting valued at €800 sells for €570,000

A painting expected to fetch between €800 and €1,600 at auction was sold for €570,000 at a Rotterdam auction house on Wednesday, RTV Rijnmond reports. ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds, an unsigned, early 17th century work, may have been taken by dealers for a painting by Italian artist Annibale Carracci whose work is sold for millions,' auctioneer Arne Bonsaksen of Vendu auction house told the broadcaster. ‘We had our expert take a look at the work and he had it looked at by an expert on Italian art. There is a possibility it could be by Carracci. (..) But I did think: what are we actually selling here?’ the auctioneer said. The new owner, whose name was not revealed, may have been inspired by art dealer Jan Six who recently discovered what he claims are two unknown works by Rembrandt, one of which he purchased at auction for just €156,000.   More >



NL foreign minister welcomes Brexit deal

News that the British cabinet has agreed to support Wednesday's agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the EU has been welcomed by Dutch foreign affairs minister Stef Blok as ‘a good step’. ‘The Netherlands and the other 27 members states will study the concept text, including the political declaration, very carefully,’ Blok said. ‘The way the deal over customs union as a back stop demands close examination.’ The Dutch government, he said, will also look at the documents from the perspective of the Dutch interest, and ‘extra attention will be paid to agreements on the level playing field and fishing.’ The Netherlands has been particularly concerned about the impact of Britain's withdrawal on the Dutch fishing industry, much of which is based in the UK. Agreement on the deal, which still has to be approved by European leaders, the European parliament and the British parliament, has led to sharply divided reactions in both the Netherlands and Britain. ‘The mindf*ck is that many are now relieved that there is initial agreement, while of course the entire #Brexit affairs is a lose-lose that we will long remember,’ said Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake on Twitter. Businessman Stephen Huyton, who has lived in the Netherlands for 23 years, says the deal avoids the 'cliff edge' scenario but still has a long way to go. 'Since the document was published last night and is almost 600 pages long, it’s going to be a case of the devil in the detail. Until the experts have read the documents in full I will reserve judgement,' he told DutchNews.nl. 'On a personal note, as I understand it, a UK national will cease to be an EU resident as from end March so will be obliged to use non EU passport lines like somebody from, say, Australia. This is going to be a challenge at Schiphol.' Citizens' rights The parts of the withdrawal agreement on citizens rights were agreed in March and have not changed since then despite a Europe-wide campaign for change. This means British nationals will be able to stay, work and use the healthcare services in the Netherlands but will lose their right to move to another EU country. Some 87,000 people in the Netherlands currently hold British nationality, according to the latest figures from national statistics office CBS. Blok said last month the Netherlands will ensure a ‘decent solution‘ for British citizens in the Netherlands if there is a no-deal Brexit. ‘We will not abandon these people,’ Blok said. ‘Even in a no-deal scenario we will make sure there is a decent solution so that British nationals can stay in our country after March 30, 2019.’ DutchNews.nl has asked both the foreign affairs ministry and the immigration service IND for comment. More to follow You can comment on this story using the section below.  More >


Defence ministry to buy Dutch

The Dutch armed forces should focus orders for new equipment on the Netherlands, to both boost the economy and help national security, according to defence minister Ank Bijleveld. The minister's new procurement policy will be published later on Thursday and sets out parameters for an increase in spending by the armed forces after years of cuts. The minister believes that giving priority to Dutch companies does not conflict with EU rules on tenders. Even if an order has to be placed abroad, Dutch firms should be as involved as possible, broadcaster NOS quotes the minister as saying. 'The security situation has worsened and Europe and the Netherlands have to stand on their own two feet,' the minister said. 'We have to be able to protect ourselves. That requires starting from a good level of expertise, technology and capacity.'  More >



Hema's new owner halves the board

The new owner of Dutch high street staple Hema has halved the size of the board from eight to four, the company confirmed on Thursday. The decision will enable Hema to develop its growth strategy in a 'more targeted, faster and less complex' way, the company said, adding that 'the responsibilities of the affected board members can also be picked up by senior management.' Last month Hema confirmed it was to be taken over by Dutch entrepreneur and investor Marcel Boekhoorn. The company said at the time the deal would enable Hema to 'focus fully in the next few years on online growth, international expansion and improving profitability'. Hema now operates more than 700 stores in nine countries including France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and has a payroll of more than 11,000.   More >



More fear terror attack in NL

More people in the Netherlands are concerned that a major terrorist attack will take place on Dutch soil, according to the latest poll by the counter-terrorism unit NCTV. Some 67% are now worried that an attack may happen, compared with 55% six months ago, the survey of some 800 people showed. People are also more worried about the safety of friends and family. Four in 10 are now concerned about the security of their loved ones, compared with three in 10 in the previous survey. Nevertheless, six in 10 people said the arrest of seven men who were said to be preparing a major terrorist attack in September has not an an impact on them. Three in 10 people said they now felt safer and just one in 10 less safe. There have only been a few, minor terror-related incidents in the Netherlands. In the most recent case, two American tourists were attacked by a 19-year-old Afghan national living in Germany at Amsterdam's central station. In August, a 26-year-old man was arrested at The Hague’s main railway station after placing a video on Facebook in which he appears to say he is planning to attack the parliamentary complex or an attack on Geert Wilders.  More >