Dutch right-wingers urge citizens to denounce eastern European workers


BRUSSELS, Belgium – The website's language doesn't exactly portray the kind of unity and solidarity that the European Union members are supposed to share.

“These masses of immigrant workers bring many problems: public nuisance, dirtiness, crowding out the labor market …If you have a problem with central and eastern Europeans, or if a Pole, Romanian or Bulgarian has taken your job, we want to hear about it.”

The website appeal, launched by the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, even features a multiple choice form were Dutch citizens can tick off the type of problem they’ve encountered from eastern Europeans. It includes drunkenness; nuisance parking; noise; or “degredation.”

Not surprisingly the website has provoked outrage. Ambassadors from 10 eastern European nations wrote to the Dutch parliament Monday to protest. Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a leading Polish member of the European Parliament accused the PVV of “spreading xenophobia, hatred and prejudice.”

He told GlobalPost: “While hatred is promoted in these proposals from a bygone era, Polish immigrants work, pay taxes and contribute to Dutch economy. Such behaviour [exhibited by PVV] is unacceptable.”

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The EU’s top justice official denounced the site as an affront to European values. “The PVV website runs totally counter to these principles,” said EU Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding. “It is openly calling for people to be intolerant.”

One voice notably absent in the chorus of condemnation is Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He has refused to comment on the issue, saying the behavior of the PVV is not his concern. Rutte’s center-right minority government depends on the votes of the Party for Freedom to get its policies through parliament.

Under pressure from the PVV, the Dutch government has long alienated Romania and Bulgaria by blocking their entry into the EU’s Schengen Treaty, which allows most EU citizens to travel freely within the bloc without showing their passports.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. Eight other former Communist nations in the east joined in 2004 and their citizens can travel and work freely across the EU.

The PVV says up to 350,000 easterners are living in the Netherlands. However traffic is not all one way. In 2010 alone, 34,000 people left the Netherlands to settle elsewhere in the EU, according to the Dutch Central Statistics Office. A further 12,000 emigrated in the first nine-months of last year.

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The PVV made its name through opposition to Islamic immigration. Party leader Geert Wilders has called for the Quran to be banned and says Islam is a threat to European civilization.

However like radical right parties in other parts of Europe, the PVV has recently focused its attention on the EU, seeking to capitalize on popular unease sparked by the economic crisis.

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