Netherlands. Be grand, support the ‘Gambia’ experiment in migration

Last week was a summit of European government leaders in Brussels.

Migration was high on the agenda in this meeting, which was held on instigation of the Netherlands.

Our prime-minister promised to his VVD rank and file to tackle the immigration issue.
By more control, strenghtening border controls, possibly creating of a wall, and more effective ‘sending-back’ measures.
The dutch reception centres became overloaded. Images of immigrants sleeping outside in Ter Apel went around the world.

The irony is that the Netherlands decreased their reception capabilities in the aftermath of the previous immigration crisis in 2015-2016. It was not needed. Seems to me rather short-sighted in a continuously changing world.

This time Rutte didn’t show up with the biography of Chopin. He wanted to have something.

The Netherlands has a colonisation history, like most of our European fellow member states, of which the shadow side becomes more and more lucid.
We colonised Africa in former centuries. And exploited the continent, mainly of two of the three capital assets which I learned in my lessons economy at secondary school.
Nature (its resources, minerals, cotton, rubber, food), and labour.

The WIC (Western-Indian Company) is the basis of the triangular trans-atlantic trade [1].
We exported arms, gunpowder, pottery and textile to Africa.
The trade in slaves was the pivot. From there slaves were transported in inhuman circumstances to the Caribbean to work there. A lot of them died during the voyage.
From the Caribbean products produced by these slaves, like coffee, cotton and silver, were transported to Europe.

You could see an analogy in the way migrants now face a dangerous journey on sea.

At the top in Brussels chancellor Scholz would present a plan to radically change the way the EU handles the migration crisis. The German government is going to make ‘deals’ with African countries. To begin with Gambia. 29:11 – 40:53 minute.


  • All existing illegal Gambian migrants in Germany get a permit to work (approx 20:000);
  • Other Gambians who want to come, can only do that in a legal way;
  • The German government offers work visa in sectors in need of workers, ór for a study;
  • In exchange the Gambian government agrees to take back áll new illegal immigrants.

The idea is that in this way illegal immigration will be discouraged. Migration is very important. 28 % of the GNP of Gambia is dependent of migration.

The creator of this plan is the German Gerhard Knaus, advisor of the German government.
Where could you know his name of ? Knaus was the architect of the EU-Turkye deal. A deal, or ‘statement of cooperation’, that was made whilst Europe was in the latter migration crisis in 2015, when more than one million refugees arrived at the European frontiers. Most of them had fled conflict and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The deal consisted of a combination of grants, a ‘grant’ part, to Turkye for reception of Syrian refugees, a plan to redistribute Syrain refugees over EU-countries and thirdly sending back migrants to Turkye who have no right to protection in the EU.  

The deal is a mixed success.   

Moreover the idea is that Europe will take a responsibility to help building up these countries. There is already an instrument that predecessor the European Community used to help its former colonies. These are called ACP-countries (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries).

The instrument is the European Development Fund (EDF) that is funded directly by the members-states. Perhaps this could be deployed directly to projects to create work opportunities in this respect.

The base of the deals is reciprocity. Co-operation with countries of origin.


  • The need of European countries that have a shortage of specific workers, is met;
  • We have more real grip on immigration streams;
  • People of developing countries such as Gambia get an alternative for illegal and dangerous efforts to reach Europe;
  • These countries get a promising development perspective;
  • The revenue model of criminal organisations is eliminated.

Legal migrants get a job and can support their family at home.

This project could be a sting that gets the pressure of the present crisis.

Creating real partnerships would be a dignified stance of the European Union. Leave a history of colonisation and post-colonisation behind. And setting itself up as a model of a sovereign supranational state for the 21-st century.

Conclusions of the top

In the press release after the summit [2], I don’t read anything than vagueness in the conclusions. ‘The government leaders have agreed that the EU will make an effort to prevent loss of lives, reduce the pressure on EU-borders and the reception capacities, to fight people smugglers and enhance return. They will do this by intensifying partnerships with countries of origin and transit countries’.

Only with a lot of necessary blows to the arm, I can identify a positive intention to tackle the migration crisis on a new and reciprocal way. There was just no finger pointing.

Part of the problem is also that the meetings of the European Council of government leaders and Council of Ministers are confidential. No information on the concrete deliberations is  public. Only the press releases. So the government leaders can say something different in their closed meeting, internally, than what they say to their home crowd. A Janus head.

In a democratic Europe, where European citizens feel themselves represented, and recognized by their leaders, this should be changed.

Rutte could say ‘no’ to his constituency upon returning home. I hope the Dutch government will once say ‘yes’.



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