Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands' PWV
The European Parliament is to hold a debate on March 13 2012 about the website started by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party that invites Dutch people to complain about immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe.
The introduction on the website, which the party called the "Central and Eastern European hotline", says: "Are they causing you problems? Or did you lose your job to a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central of East European? We would love to hear from you."
The debate at the European Parliament is to be held at the request of Joseph Daul, chairperson of the centre-right European People’s Party group.
Daul said: "I am angered that anyone could attack fellow Europeans. It is against all European and indeed human values to attack a group of people in this way. It is reckless to encourage hate and discrimination."
"We especially call on the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, to declare the position of his government on this issue and come before the European Parliament to explain his deafening silence on this issue."
Bulgarian members of the European Parliament released a joint statement against the website, local news agency Focus said, quoting Bulgaria’s ruling party GERB.
The statement said that Bulgaria’s MEPs "oppose any attempt to plant xenophobia and a lack of tolerance in the EU".
"We express our indignation at the latest attempts by the Dutch Freedom Party to discriminate against European citizens through the website it maintains. We do not accept the application of double standards and discrimination against Bulgarian citizens and will do everything we can in our capacity as MEPs to make sure that the EU’s main principles and values are observed."
Earlier this week, the heads of 10 missions in Central and Eastern Europe, including the charge d’affaires of the Bulgarian embassy in The Hague, have voiced their protest against the website.
Viviane Reding, the European Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship commissioner, called the site "an open call for intolerance". She went on: "In Europe we support freedom. We solve our problems by showing more solidarity, not by telling tales on fellow citizens."
The site was criticised by European Parliament President Martin Schulz as an affront to universal and EU values.
Employers’ groups have been more seriously irritated by the PVV website, a report by Radio Netherlands said. Many East Europeans do jobs which Dutch people are no longer willing to do, such as in the market gardening industry in the west of the Netherlands. The VNO-NCW employers’ organisation has condemned the PVV site as xenophobic and is calling on the government to make a point of distancing itself from it, the report said.
"The call is lost on conservative VVD prime minister Mark Rutte, however, who says the website is just PVV party business about which he sees no reason to comment," Radio Netherlands said.
It has also recently been shown that workers from Eastern Europe contribute to the Dutch economy; one report claimed Polish workers alone pay more than one billion euro in taxes, the report said.
In addition, the Netherlands looks to Eastern Europe for support on EU decisions. The Netherlands is trying to negotiate a lower net contribution to the EU, and needs support from Eastern Europe to do so, the report said.
Media reports quoted Wilders as rejecting outright the criticism of the website.