The social benefits agreement between Morocco and the Netherlands dates back to the seventies. Through the arrangement, Dutch social benefits, such as child support, can be received in Morocco.
The Dutch government has for a long time been advocating that benefits paid to people who have taken up residence in Morocco should be lowered, as the cost of living in Morocco is lower than in the Netherlands. For months, the Dutch government tried to negotiate a review of the deal with the Moroccan government.
But just when a final deal was in sight, the Moroccan government came with a final, additional demand; the Dutch social benefits agreement should also apply to Western Sahara.
This was not acceptable to the Dutch. According to the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs, Lodewijk Asscher, this is “problematic from the perspective of national and international law”. As a result, the deal is out. "A pity", the minister wrote on Twitter. The announcement was made yesterday.
Last year, a majority in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament approved a motion calling for the cancellation of the social benefit agreement. The Moroccan government’s talks with Minister Asscher were considered to the last chance to maintain the deal.
The deal will be formally cancelled from 1 January 2017, since the procedure takes that long.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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