Vote urges PM to condemn website

 

A motion calling on the Dutch prime minister to condemn an inflammatory anti-immigration website has been overwhelmingly carried by the European Parliament.

MEPs voted a show of hands to condemn the website by the far-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) that was launched last month as a forum for people to complain about migrants from Eastern Europe.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has failed to date to condemn the website as his minority coalition is dependent on the support of the PVV, which has 25 of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament.

The result of the European Parliament vote was inevitable given the fierce criticism directed at Mr Rutte by all the major party groupings in the parliament.

The original motion was put forward by the Green grouping in parliament. It described the website as going against “the fundamental European values of human dignity, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights and risks destroying the very basis of the Union, which is pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and freedom of movement”.

The silence of the Dutch government was condemned by the largest grouping in parliament, the centre-right EPP, which numbers among its parties the CDA, which is the junior partner in the Dutch coalition. EPP leader Joseph Daul said it was intolerable a party participating in a coalition government should allow a call to hatred against nationals from other member states.

The Dutch government stance was also condemned by Guf Verhofstadt, the chair of the liberal grouping ALDE to which Mr Rutte’s party is attached.

However, Conservative Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannon said the motion did not target the “boneheads” in the PVV but Mr Rutte who was not responsible for that party and “had a country to run”.

He said the parliament’s time should be spent dealing with outcomes it can affect instead of behaving in a “self-indulgent, self-righteous” manner. “The worst the crisis becomes outside, the more we engage in this displacement activity,” Mr Hannon said.

Belgian Eurosceptic MEP Derk Jan Eppink likened the vote in the European Parliament to a “kangaroo court”. He said he condemned the PVV website but was uneasy about demands from the European Parliament that Mr Rutte appear in front of it.

Mr Eppink said such demands “turns the European Parliament into the moral authority that decides on the intentions of government leaders who are only answerable to appear in the EP”.