Let’s Go Dutch

by Maria on September 2, 2003

The US is not the only place where political dissent is considered a reasonable basis to prevent individuals from travelling freely. If the Italians have their way, all of Europe will be a no-go zone for anti-globalisation protesters, anti-war demo organisers, and a whole slew of objectors to the current soft-authoritarian right that prevails around the Mediterranean.

The Council of Ministers dealing with Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) is unburdened by the transparency requirements of other EU Councils, and is subject only to a cursory and non-binding consultation with the European Parliament. It is an ideal, and increasingly used, means for member states to introduce controversial measures bearing on policing and the human rights of citizens.

Statewatch reports on the latest attempt by a member state to launder policies through the JHA Council. The Italian Presidency has proposed a resolution (a measure which requires no consultation at all with the European Parliament or national parliaments) to crack down at border controls on those likely to threaten ‘public order’ in the country being entered. The draft resolution says that;

“Member States (of the originating country) shall supply that (destination) country with any information of relevance in identifying individuals with a record of having caused disturbances in similar circumstances“,

and the information supplied may:

include names of individuals convicted of offences involving disruption of public order at demonstrations or other events“.

Remember that public order offences range all the way from violent soccer hooliganism to simply participating in a sit-down protest. Apparently, any individual with a ‘record’ (not necessarily even a conviction) can have his or her personal data transmitted without knowledge or consent to the police in an other state, and then be targetted and refused at border controls.

Thankfully, the Dutch are calling a spade a spade, saying that refusal of EU citizens at borders should be exceptional and not routine, the public order criteria need to be fully elaborated, the proposal should be made in such a way as to receive domestic and EU parliamentary scrutiny, and it should fully respect the European data protection Directive 95/46.

This isn’t the first time the Dutch have objected to the use of ‘security measures’ to cull political opposition. Last year, they privately objected to the inclusion of non-violent political groups in a list of ‘terrorist organisations’ whose members were targetted for immediate extradition to the US. (What had started as a means to round up potential terrorists was seized as an opportunity for some European governments to put radical opposition parties on the Most Wanted List.) The Dutch didn’t get very far then, but still, points for effort.

At least this time around, the Dutch will be able to use the threat of veto power in the JHA Council to send the Italians back to the drawing board.



Daragh McDowell 09.02.03 at 2:34 pm

Nice one Maria, very thoughtful and important post. Of course Berlusconi’s disgusting little premiership has made him a natural ally of Bush’s junta and the US definition of Global Free Trade. The G8 protests in Genoa were an unmitigated exercise in massive use of state force against a largely peaceful group of legitimate protestors, sanctioned by a corrupt media tycoon. I’m very worried at Berlusconi’s attempt to actually hinder the free travel of EU citizens as it seems to be an attempt not only at quashing dissent, but in actively weakening the Union, as we seem to be on the road to becoming closer and tighter a unit. Of course this horrifies the blind nationalist sentiments of the British, the power hungry mobster government in Italy, and of course the USA, which fears the creation of a real potential counterweight to its power that could curb its plans for global supremacy. Sorry ’bout the rant, but its time for Berlusconi to go. He represents a fundamental danger to the European Union, and is an embarrassment to Italy.


Ophelia Benson 09.02.03 at 5:11 pm

Blimey. Not altogether surprising, coming from Berlusconi’s Italy [imagine, for instance, Rupert Murdoch owning not lots of US tv stations but nearly all of them, and being president into the bargain – the mind boggles], but disgusting all the same.


the mighty jimbo 09.03.03 at 5:23 am

it’s like fascism is becoming popular so long everyone get’s to keep suvs, walmart and cheap cafe lates on every corner.


Doug 09.03.03 at 10:23 am

fwiw, fascism was popular the first time around. it’s only once the regime falls that everyone claims to have been a resister, or at least a resister inside.

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