The free access of the Japanese to the Dutch labour market, and other legal benefits concerning their residence, was theoretically confirmed in the elaborated ruling of the Dutch Counsel of State of 19 June 2013, that attracted little attention. However, founded explicitly on the proclamation of the IND at the hearing about the status and implementations of the Swiss treaty, it bared a groundbreaking conclusion that Japanese are equaled to Swiss nationals, who already were equaled to Dutch nationals. Based on the most favorite clause nation in the Japanese trade treaty, they can derive rights from the Dutch-Swiss treaty. In a later ruling on 24 December 2014 the Counsel of State decided in a more practical matter, where the lawfulness of the work permit requirement was at stake. The Counsel concluded that no governmental consent for employment was required under the Swiss treaty, thus allowing Japanese citizens the same benefit.
Reluctantly the government accepted this outcome and explicitly stated that it would follow the court's decision regarding the work permit requirement. The immigration law practice then expected a formalization of the jurisprudence in transparent regulation, loyal towards the considerations of the courts. However, nothing happened, and without a legal basis the IND continued most of the older practice, denying Japanese applicants a Swiss treaty compliant review of their position, bluntly ignoring the decisions of the courts.
The new "interpretation" of the the treaty makes it void and useless for 99% of the citizensIt turns out that this was just the calm before the storm. Secretly, without even informing the parliament in a footnote in its quarterly immigration update, the government was working on a way out of this awkward international heritage of the age that Holland sought every opportunity to expand its frontiers and political influence in the rest of the world. It arranged an orchestrated diplomatic correspondence with the Swiss authorities to eliminate the effectiveness of the treaty in regard to their own nationals residing and working on the territory of the other state.
Remarkably, the memo's evade any reference that this agreement should be regarded as an amendment of the treaty. Euphemistically the abrupt cancel of unlimited free choice of residence and work of their citizens is called "a communication" of an "interpretation" of the provision of article 1. Just now, in the view of the ministries, the right interpretation apparently is to add an invisible disclaimer in the provision that makes it void and useless for 99% of the citizens, whether they are Dutch, Swiss or Japanese.
Seen the present anti-immigration atmosphere in Dutch politics this retreat on itself is not surprising, and it may even be justifiable, but only in a decent and transparent manner, following the strict stipulations of article 91 and 93 of the Constitution and the applicable act that prescribes the administrative procedures, allowing the parliament the right to monitor and give consent. Yes, this would delay the execution and request extra efforts, but it would also allow debate and consideration towards the interest of the people strongly affected by this amendment.
And extra time to adapt to this unprecedented rollback would certainly be fair to the citizens who already have planned and build their life in the Netherlands on the earlier, now apparently wrong "interpretation" of the treaty - although for at least 15 years towards Swiss, and 3 years towards Japanese citizens, that so called erroneous interpretation was an explicitly acknowledged part of the national law practice.
Expectations may be subject to unsolicited chance, even under good governance. But two single page letters of the states' administration with a very disputable content, provoking enormous consequences to the life of some, may not vaporize the principle of certainty; the prerogative of any self respecting society and its citizens.
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