The N-VA rejects the extension of consular assistance for Belgians with dual nationality

5 January 2021

“This legislative proposal is mainly to score cheap points with their own PS-Ecolo supporters.” MPs Darya Safai and Theo Francken oppose the extension of consular assistance to Belgians with dual nationality, recognised refugees and stateless persons. The purple-green majority approved such an extension.

Through the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, many fellow countrymen with dual citizenship were stuck in countries such as Morocco and Burundi, often giving rise to dire situations that took weeks to months to resolve. Belgian diplomacy did what it could, but some civil society organisations and the green parties especially noticed discrimination between “full Belgians” and “those with dual nationality”.

Proactive Greens

According to MP Darya Safai, the current and customary practice in international law is that a country can provide assistance to its citizens unless they are in another state of which they are also nationals. “So in this case, to Belgian Moroccans who could no longer leave Morocco. The Green MPs saw a solution by formulating the Consular Code more proactively in order to guarantee the same rights. If a Belgian Moroccan gets stuck in another lockdown in Morocco, the Belgian authorities will have to guarantee the same effort to bring him back. Even though Rabat naturally regards him as its own Moroccan national.”

Mixing in the affairs of other countries

MP Theo Francken reacts dismissively. “This legislative proposal puts the important principle of non-interference at risk. The Hague Convention clearly states that a state may not act diplomatically in favour of one of its nationals if doing so is contrary to another state of which that person is also a national.”

Theo Francken fears that other countries will blame Belgium if it interferes in internal affairs. “I would like to remind my colleagues that the principle of non-interference also means protection for us. It will be more difficult for us to protest if other countries start doing the same with us. Finally, it seems unlikely that countries such as Morocco will even take any notice of this change in the law. In short, we are further eroding our own sovereignty, only increasing our legal liability and not even solving the problem. This legislative proposal is mainly to score cheap points with their own PS-Ecolo supporters.”

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