EU calls Dutch anti-immigrant party intolerant

AP , Monday 13 Feb 2012

EU justice commissioner condemns the Netherlands' Freedom Party after it agreed to back governing coalition in exchange for a crackdown on immigration

The European Union's top justice official on Monday said a Dutch party backing the country's minority government is fomenting intolerance after it launched a website where citizens can file complaints about central and eastern Europeans.

The website, which calls on people to report "central and east Europeans ... for general nuisance, pollution and labor market displacement," was launched last week by the nationalist Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, who is best known for his anti-immigrant and anti-Islam stance.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding blasted the website for "openly calling for people to be intolerant," and said it contravenes the freedom of movement within the union.

"We stand for an open continent where citizens can move, work and study wherever they like. The citizens of the 27 EU Member States should feel at home no matter where they decide to move," Reding said in a statement.

Wilders could not be reached for comment on Monday.

His party is the third largest in the Netherlands and agreed to back the minority right wing coalition government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte in return for concessions such as a crackdown on immigration. In recent months, the Freedom Party has been losing ground in the polls.

Rutte has tried to stay out of the controversy saying Monday that the website had nothing to do with the Dutch government. "It is a Freedom Party initiative and we do differ of opinion when addressing such things," Rutte said.

The website asks the Dutch whether they have lost jobs as a result of migrants from other countries or if "central and eastern Europeans a nuisance to you?

"We'd love to hear it," it says.

Reding said that calling on the Dutch to denounce fellow EU citizens will not solve Europe's economic crisis.

"We will only solve our problems by increasing solidarity, not by denouncing fellow citizens," Reding said.

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