Dutch Council of Ministers agree to transitional arrangement movement of persons BES Islands

The Dutch Council of Ministers has agreed to the proposal of Minister Hirsch Ballin of Justice and State Secretary Bijleveld of the Interior and Kingdom Relations for a transitional arrangement which regulates the access and admission of Dutch citizens to the BES Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba). The transitional arrangement determines that until the introduction of a Movement of Persons Kingdom Act on the BES Islands, the existing regime for the access and admission of Dutch citizens will be maintained.

When the political reforms within the Kingdom will have formally been concluded, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become part of the Dutch form of government in the form of public corporations. CuraƧao and St. Maarten will then become separate countries within the Kingdom just as Aruba. The present state of the Netherlands Antilles will be discontinued. Following on the political reforms, the introduction of a uniform regulation was discussed for the access and admission of all Dutch citizens to all parts of the Kingdom, which will be laid down in a Movement of Persons Kingdom Act. The starting point of this Kingdom Act would be that the access and admission of Dutch citizens to the various parts of the Kingdom must be free in principle and subjected to as few restrictive conditions as possible.

As long as no Movement of Persons Kingdom Act has become effective, the access and admission of Dutch citizens to the BES Islands must temporarily -by way of a transitional regulation- be regulated elsewhere in order to avoid the creation of a loophole. It is, however, considered undesirable in this transitional arrangement to already unilaterally introduce the regime of a Movement of Persons Kingdom Act in a limited part of the Kingdom, the BES Islands, for all citizens of the Kingdom.

In that case, all Dutch citizens would in principle have free access and admission to the BES Islands, whereas other (future) countries do not (yet) have that free access and admission. That would not be in agreement with the intended reciprocity in a Movement of Person Kingdom Act, namely a uniform regime of free access and admission for all Dutch citizens that is going to be applicable in all the countries of the Kingdom. That is why it was opted to maintain the existing rules for the time being.

The transitional arrangement will be sent to the Lower House in a government amendment with the already submitted bill Admission and Expulsion Act BES. That bill will regulate the access and admission of foreigners to the BES Islands, and after the introduction of said transitional arrangement, therefore also the access and admission of Dutch citizens to the BES Islands.