Dutch govt formation talks again strand on asylum policy

Government formation talks between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks again reached a stalemate, the parties announced on Monday. And the stumbling point was again the policy on asylum seekers. Specifically, GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver could not accept making deals with other countries about taking back asylum seekers, RTL Nieuws reports.

Between June 6th and Monday, VVD leader Mark Rutte and Klaver spent about nine hours in conversation about whether the Netherlands can participate in making deals on asylum seekers like the one between the EU and Turkey. CDA leader Sybrand Buma and D66 leader Alexander Pechtold gave Rutte mandate to talk to Klaver alone on this point, given Rutte's well known ability to reach compromises where no compromise seems possible. 

But all that lead to nothing, according to RTL. On Thursday all four party leaders met with mediator Herman Tjeenk Willink, who presented them with a study showing that deals on asylum seekers, like the one between the EU and Turkey, are not against Dutch law or the UN Refugee Treaty. According to RTL, Klaver finally gave in and said he'd accept this, as long as he could edit a few sentences on the note and return it the next day.

On Friday Klaver delivered the edited note to VVD chairman Halbe Zijlstra, who was shocked by the changes, according to the broadcaster. GroenLinks wants the Netherlands to, in addition to the regular inflow of asylum seekers, take in an additional 5 thousand to 25 thousand people per year. The party already tabled this point in earlier talks, but it was immediately rejected by the other three party leaders.

It was decided to let the party leaders think about this development over the weekend, before deciding how to proceed. On Sunday evening there was great relief when Klaver told his colleagues that he will drop his new demands over the number of asylum seekers, according to RTL. But on Monday, when the four party leaders met again, Klaver stated that he can't accept the asylum deals after all.

To great consternation from the VVD, CDA and D66, who feel "played with", one of the party leaders said to the broadcaster. And with that the recovering trust between the four party leaders is once again destroyed. 

Klaver was not confident that people who "flee from war and violence will actually get the protection they are entitled to", he wrote to his followers after the failed negotiations, NOS reports. He emphasized that GroenLinks will only make agreements with non-EU countries on taking back asylum seekers if those agreements are not restricted to only legal guarantees. "We also want waterproof guarantees that the countries with which we make the agreements will actually give the right protection and care."

Klaver said that he is very disappointed that this new round of formation talks failed again. He added that GroenLinks does not "want to reign at any price".

D66 leader Pechtold said that he is "extremely disappointed" that it turned out to be impossible to form a government between the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks. In a video statement on Twitter he would not point the finger of blame, but did speak of "political inability, bordering on political unwillingness."

PVV leader Geert Wilders called the collapse of negotiations "excellent news". "High time now for negotiations with PVV! Only with us the Netherlands will get a strict immigration policy!" he tweeted.