Expatica news

Dutch to speed up work permit applications

17 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — Work permit applications for employees from eight of the 10 EU accession states will be speeded up to help tackle labour shortages in sectors of the Dutch economy, it has been confirmed.

Social Affairs State Secretary Minister Mark Rutte has written to the Lower House of Parliament, de Tweede Kamer, saying that the new accelerated process will apply to citizens of the Central and Eastern European countries joining the EU on 1 May 2004.

Applications should be processed within one or a maximum of two weeks under the accelerated process. Employers will not have to prove a Dutch citizen or a person from another EEA state could not be found to fill the vacancy.

The normal process time, on paper at least, is four-five weeks after the employer has requested a work permit and provided evidence of having unsuccessfully sought a Dutch or EEA candidate.

The Central and Eastern European states joining the EU are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia

Citizens of the two other accession states, Malta and Cyprus, do not require a work permit, or terwerkstellingsvergunning.

Rutte said that the Centre for Work and Income (CWI), which issues work permits, can also agree on a special fast-track arrangement with sectors or professional groups facing a potential labour shortage.

“This may result in the introduction of an accelerated procedure for work permit applications, provided the sector has itself actively sought to resolve the shortage,” the minister said.

Sectors deemed suitable will initially be granted the accelerated process status for three months. The period may be extended if the CWI considers that the labour shortage is ongoing.

The CWI will announce in mid-April which sectors will qualify for the accelerated process. The accelerated process will come into effect from 1 May, the day of the biggest enlargement in EU history.

The CWI and the employer will not be required — as stipulated under the current regulations — to look first for a Dutch or other EU national who is able to fill the vacancy in question, Rutte wrote.

Until now, employers hiring citizens of the EEA region — all EU states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — were exempt from the need to obtain a work permit.

The Netherlands, France and Germany have taken the lead in placing restrictions and limits on the right of workers from the eight states to move to Western Europe to seek employment.

Central and Eastern European governments have voiced their annoyance that their citizens are being denied the freedom of labour movement which is enshrined in the founding EU treaties.

Initially, the Dutch government seemed to be leaning towards against imposing restrictions.

In January this year, the Dutch government said it would exempt employers hiring workers from Central and Eastern Europe from having to prove no suitable Dutch or EEA citizen could be found.

The Cabinet decided that it would consider tightening its entry policies if more than 22,000 workers per year arrived from the new member states.

Following complaints in Parliament, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s coalition government backtracked in February.

Immigration lawyer Patrick Rovers said that a parliamentary majority — consisting of the political parties CDA, VVD, SP and LPF — feared that the arrival of employees from the new EU member states would take away jobs from Dutch nationals.

“The Dutch government backed down, reconsidered its options, and came up with a cunning plan,” he said.

“Until May 2006, the regular work permit rules and regulations will be enforced with regard to occupations and sectors within the Dutch economy where there is a large pool of available local workers.

“(But) the CWI will be allowed to waive the normal requirements for the sectors of the economy experiencing shortages.”

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + employment in the Netherlands