Dutch asylum policy to become 'more restrictive', PM

16th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Netherlands' asylum policy will become "more selective and more restrictive", the leader of the centre-right government that rules with the backing of a far-right party said Friday.

The country which long cultivated an image of multi-cultural tolerance, now wants to "address the criminality of foreigners, harmonise and simplify the asylum criteria and fight against illegality," an interior ministry statement said.

"The asylum policy will become more selective and more restrictive," Prime Minister Mark Rutte added at a press conference after a cabinet meeting in The Hague.

Among other changes, family reunification will in future be limited to immediate family -- a spouse or common-law partner and minor children.

Illegal immigration will become a criminal offence, punishable by up to four years in prison or a fine of 3,800 euros ($5,200).

Foreigners who have lived in the Netherlands for less than three years and commit a crime, will be expelled "speedily".

The government also announced plans to ban the burqa, and said it would oppose bids by Romania and Bulgaria to enter Europe's visa-free Schengen zone.

Rutte's government enjoys parliamentary backing from anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom, in exchange for which the party was promised a larger say in policy making.

© 2011 AFP

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