With princess Máxima about to become a dual national queen, Eelco Keij hopes the government will modernise the rules on having more than one passport.
The estimated number of Dutch people abroad varies between 700,000 and 1.2 million. Within the Netherlands itself, every year some 14,000-20,.000 newly naturalized Dutch citizens join the nation of orange.
Both groups of Dutch citizens face a similar problem: the Dutch law forces them to give up their original citizenship when adopting a second one.
You are an Australian citizen and would like to become a Dutch citizen? That is possible, but only if you give up your Australian citizenship. You are Dutch and you would like to become American? That is possible, but then you will automatically lose your Dutch citizenship.
Dual nationality seems taboo in the Netherlands. While both groups may be legally different groups (originally born Dutch citizens adopting a different nationality in a different country versus non-native Dutch citizens who become Dutch citizens), they both face legislation that is restrictive, old-fashioned, unnecessary and most likely economically detrimental to the Netherlands itself.
Only a few exceptions exist to this “you lose”-rule, one of which is being married to someone whose nationality one wants to adopt.
In 2012, the discussion around dual nationality garnered national and international attention. The previous government tried to abolish these exceptions and to embrace the concept of single-nationality.
Although the bill was formally brought forward by CDA and VVD, it strongly leaned on anti-foreign PVV sentiment and input. It represented an idea of immense stupidity and longing to a time that never existed in the first place. Recently, the new government wisely withdrew the bill altogether..
With the bill out of the way, everything has been settled then? Not really.
There are still hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens living in other countries – if not more – who remain passionately Dutch and who represent the Netherlands wherever they are.
On a daily basis, they live a life in at least two cultures. Mostly because of practical reasons – being able to buy a house, to find a job – they decide to adopt a new nationality. The reaction of Dutch politics to these entrepreneurial Dutch citizens? ‘Goodbye, you just lost your passport.’
For PvdA, GroenLinks and D66 this is an issue that should be resolved sooner than later; they made that already clear in 2012. How ironic is it that exactly the ‘liberal’ party VVD still does not answer any calls to changing the status quo and to adapting it to the standards of today’s globalized world.
Perhaps our future queen Máxima will be our guiding light in this political fight. After all, she will be the first Dutch Queen to officially hold two nationalities: Argentinian and Dutch. A great example for a nation.
What remains is the people.
Eelco Keij is a former candidate for Dutch parliament (D66) and fighting for the rights of Dutch citizens worldwide. He lives in New York.
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