Thursday 29 October 2020

Dutch won’t host ‘expensive’ meeting with US congress during EU presidency

us flagThe Netherlands is poised to snub America for a second time by refusing to facilitate a visit by members of the American congress to The Hague during the Dutch presidency of the EU next year, the Volkskrant says on Monday.

Sources have told the paper Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders is not in favour of the visit because it will be expensive and his civil servants think it too much hassle to organise.

The Americans, who have not yet had a formal refusal, are not happy, the paper says. Delegation leader Mario Diaz-Balart said the decision is a ‘slap in the face’ to the American congress. ‘It is important this goes ahead, especially now,’ he said.

The Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue takes place every six months between the EU and US and covers international issues which affect both parties.

The foreign affairs ministry told the Volkskrant it is not cancelling the meeting. ‘But we want to stick to the usual practices and since 2007 these meetings have taken place in Brussels,’ a spokesman said.

However, this is incorrect, the paper says. The past 77 TLD meetings have taken place alternately in Washington and the capital city of the country holding the presidency and additionally in Brussels. This means it is the Netherlands’ turn to host the Americans.

Second snub

The paper says this is the second dent in the relationship between the US and the Netherlands in recent months. In September, the Netherlands refused to accept any prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, much to the American’s disappointment.

A source in Brussels told the Volkskrant that foreign ministry civil servants consider organising the visit a major effort requiring expensive security measures, protocol, separate space for meetings and interpreters.

However, Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, who will be part of the Dutch delegation, dismissed the concerns, saying interpreters are unnecessary and that the US visitors bring their own security staff. The traditional dinner for 50 people can also be ‘sober’, she said.

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