Doubts over legality of Dutch integration policy

26th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government's plan to make it compulsory for all immigrants to integrate has run into legal difficulties, with three studies indicating that the implementation of the new system could prove unworkable.

26 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government's plan to make it compulsory for all immigrants to integrate has run into legal difficulties, with three studies indicating that the implementation of the new system could prove unworkable.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has unveiled plans to force all permanent immigrants to undergo compulsory integration. Immigrants, including those who have lived in the Netherlands for an extended period and have dual nationality status, will have to learn the Dutch language.
 
The studies have indicated that forcing immigrants who hold Dutch nationality to undergo Dutch language classes breaches the principle of equality. The cost of administering exams and the supervision of compulsory integration will be too high, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

Also, the European Association Treaty with Turkey means that the Netherlands cannot make it more difficult for Turkish nationals to immigrate to the Netherlands, marry a Dutch national or join family already in the Netherlands.

But the Foreigner Affairs Advice Commission (ACVZ) largely dismissed the reported findings. It admitted that MPs have expressed doubts about the feasibility of the integration policy, but that it was still working on its investigations.

The new integration system will force not only new arrivals — who have been obliged to integrate since 1998 — but also immigrants who have been in the Netherlands for many years to integrate into Dutch society. To enforce the new system, immigrants will be fined if they fail to integrate sufficiently.

But according to Dutch media, budget estimates have indicated that enforcing integration on all permanent immigrants will be too expensive, meaning that Minister Verdonk will need to reduce the scale of her plans. Jobless migrants and women may therefore be targeted first.

Verdonk had promised to explain the new integration policy in depth to the Dutch Parliament by 1 November. But due to the legal difficulties, the minister told MPs on Monday that she will need to delay presenting her definitive plans to the Lower House.

Legal experts are still investigating the legal implications of the new integration system and the minister is awaiting the final results of the studies. Verdonk will not be ready to inform the Parliament until mid-December.

The Christian Democrat CDA and Labour PvdA political parties regretted the delay, but welcomed the studies. "We preferably want a thorough brief than a half one again," CDA MP Mirjam Sterk said.

But the PvdA was critical of Verdonk. MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem claimed that the minister should have investigated the legal implications of her plans further before presenting them to the parliament.

Both parties say that if the definitive advice is negative, fewer immigrants will be forced to integrate. The CDA hoped that this would not be the case, while the PvdA said it had always found the plan practically and legally unfeasible.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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