MPs slam integration plan for Dutch people

6th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 December 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Almost all political parties in the Dutch Parliament have strongly criticised government plans to force Dutch people with a low education to undergo integration courses.

6 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — Almost all political parties in the Dutch Parliament have strongly criticised government plans to force Dutch people with a low education to undergo integration courses.

MPs of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrat Party (CDA) said the integration course and examination should apply only to non-Dutch speakers.

The small coalition party D66 joined with the opposition — Labour (PvdA), populist LPF, green-left GroenLinks and the Socialist Party — in voicing strong objections.

News was leaked late last week that Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, a member of the Liberal Party (VVD), was planning to force all Dutch nationals to undergo integration courses unless they have completed eight years of schooling in the Netherlands.

She decided on this approach after the ACVZ, a special committee on newcomers' affairs, warned that forcing immigrants alone to undertake an integration course would be discriminatory.

Her plans are part of the government's mass shake up of immigration and integration policies. Verdonk wants immigrants who don't speak Dutch well to do an integration course in a bid to solve the social polarisation witnessed in the Netherlands in recent years.

And while the CDA praised Verdonk for seeking methods to obligate immigrants to integrate, the party labelled her plans to force Dutch natives to also undergo integration into society as "nonsense". It said the minister's energies should be focused on immigrants.

The PvdA said Verdonk initially wanted to force some 1 million people to integrate. Referring to the recent legal obstacles that have since arisen, the main opposition party nevertheless criticised the minister for trying to broaden the target group further.

Studies indicated in October that forcing permanent dual national immigrants to undergo Dutch language classes breaches the principle of equality.

A European treaty signed by the Netherlands could block it from making Turkish nationals doing the course. The treaty with Turkey states the Netherlands cannot impose additional obstacles to make it more difficult for Turkish nationals to immigrate to the Netherlands, marry a Dutch national or join family already in the Netherlands.

Thirdly, the cost of the proposed integration courses is also expected to be high.

In response to Verdonk's latest plans, PvdA MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem said integration should only be imposed on social security recipients and disadvantaged women. If women cannot be forced to integrate, funding should be made available to offer the courses on a voluntary basis.

The ACVZ has advised Verdonk that everyone with less than eight years of Dutch schooling should sit an integration exam. It said to only force immigrants to follow an integration course would be discriminatory.  

In practise, the majority of people told to do an integration course will be immigrants because Dutch law prohibits children stopping their education before the school year in which they turn 17.

Minister Verdonk has reportedly accepted the committee's advice and is expected to explain her policy in detail to parliament on Tuesday.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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