Dutch MPs against emergency law for no-deal Brexit

Plenary meeting hall of the Tweede Kamer, Dutch Parliament's lower house (Photo: Wikipedia/Sisyfus)
Plenary meeting hall of the Tweede Kamer, Dutch Parliament's lower house (Photo: Wikipedia/Sisyfus)Plenary meeting hall of the Tweede Kamer, Dutch Parliament's lower house (Photo: Wikipedia/Sisyfus)

Almost all parties in the Tweede Kamer want the government to amend Article 10 of a special emergency law for the Brexit. The 'Brexit Collective Law' will be implemented if the United Kingdom breaks with the European Union with no agreements in place. But the parliamentarians feel the law gives too much power to one minister and uncontrollable powers to the government, NOS reports.

The law regulates the powers of the Dutch government to take emergency measures. If it is implemented, a minister can change or withdraw a law without the approval of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, and without the advice of the Council of State. Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs sent the law to the Kamer earlier this month, calling it a "safety net". He will discuss it with the parliamentarians in January.

According to CDA parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt, the law does not respect parliamentary democracy. "If something needs to be arranged quickly, parliament can also meet on a Saturday and it can be introduced on Monday", he said, according to the broadcaster. "This emergency law is accompanied by fewer guarantees than the declaration of a state of emergency."

"The Cabinet has to adjust the law", D66 MP Kees Verhoeven said. "Such a [no-deal] Brexit would mean a unique situation, but that does not mean that you can put the Kamer out of play. This haste and panic are really the wrong reflexes."

Kees van der Staaij of the SGP, a party with traditionally thorough constitutional knowledge according to the broadcaster, thinks that even in the case of a no-deal Brexit, the government will be able to see problems coming to a large extent. "Foreseeable emergency is not a real emergency, so the bar for such a special emergency law is very high."

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver called the law "more fitting to a dictatorship than to a democracy". 

VVD faction leader Klaas Dijkhoff called all the fuss about the law premature."This emergency law can not happen without the parliament. We have to find a balance between arranging everything properly and acting decisively. We can not predict everything, sometimes parliament has to sing a little later if the situation demands it."

The parliamentarians are not alone in their criticism. Experts also find the law unusual and very undesirable, according to the newspaper. "Here the gate is thrown open to deviate from existing regulations on a large scale, for a few years, for reasons of need and urgency that a minister feels", warned Wim Voermans, professor of constructional and administrative law. 

After some two years of negotiations, the European Union and United Kingdom managed to reach an agreement on the Brexit. But earlier this week British Prime Minister Theresa May decided to postpone a House of Commons vote on the deal, coming to the conclusion that the deal will not get enough support. She is now meeting with EU leaders to try and get extra promises in the deal. 

A no-deal Brexit will cost the Netherlands around 2.3 billion euros up to 2023, the Dutch Court of Audit said in a new report released on Monday. This involves extra money for Customs and the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA, as well as higher contributions to the EU.