By Zainab Calcuttawala
By Zainab Calcuttawala
Rabat – The Dutch senate voted on Tuesday in favor of a bill that will unilaterally terminate a 1972 treaty that allowed Moroccans with a Dutch citizenship to collect social security benefits from the Netherlands while living in Morocco.
The termination will allow the Dutch government to cut social security benefits for Dutch orphans and widows in Morocco.
Late last year, Netherlands pulled the plug on talks with Morocco that were designed to revise the treaty and cut benefits to Dutch orphans and widows living in Morocco by 40% in order to match the cost of living in Morocco. A majority of the members of the Dutch parliament had argued that benefit payouts should reflect local needs, not Dutch standards, according to DutchNews.
According to the same source, Dutch-Moroccans had argued that those who have paid social insurance premiums in the Netherlands, but have been living outside the country, should be entitled the same level of benefits as those living in the Netherlands.
Lodewijk Asscher, Dutch minister of social affairs and employment, said that talks failed due to the Moroccan government’s insistence that the treaty be expanded to include the Western Sahara region as part of Morocco at the “eleventh hour of negotiations.”
In order to implement the proposed cuts, the treaty needed to be terminated, according to Asscher.
No dates have been set for the implementation of the bill or the proposed cuts.
The minister noted that the termination of the treaty does not mean that “400 years of friendly relations” between Morocco and the Netherlands have been severed. Netherlands is still willing to restart talks with the Moroccan government on the issue before July, he said.
Dutch Senator Paul Schnabel expressed regret at the termination of the treaty due to issues of excessive national pride, especially because benefits to Dutch Moroccans in the Western Sahara are in low amounts. He argued that the bill should have been prevented and will probably sour long term relations with Morocco – a country that the Netherlands cooperates with in trade, counterterrorism, and more.
The senator said that defending moral rightness for its own sake delivered little in this situation.
“If Morocco and the Netherlands would be prepared to lessen national pride in the interests of their own citizens and the maintenance of good relations, there still would be a clear solution to this problem.”