Expatica news

Dutch told to prepare for more expat workers

8 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — In advice that could spark a turnaround in government immigration policy, a Christian Democrat CDA workgroup is urging the Netherlands to prepare itself for the arrival of more expat workers.

In contrast to official CDA reservations about labour migration, the workgroup’s report on immigration and integration to be published on Monday backs the recruitment of highly-educated foreigners to fill jobs where a shortage of Dutch workers exists.

But in a continuation of the negative political mood against family unification migration, the workgroup also proposes that women who migrate to the Netherlands to join their Dutch partner must prove they are qualified to join the workforce.

Concerns have been expressed in the past that primarily Turkish and Moroccan family unification migrants do not integrate and form a burden on the Dutch social security system. The Cabinet thus resolved last month that non-EU nationals must complete an integration course before they arrive to join their Dutch partner.

Under the leadership of Rotterdam CDA Alderman Sjaak van der Tak, the workgroup also said the Netherlands should restrict immigration to foreign workers, political refugees and EU nationals, newspaper Trouw reported.

The report: Integration Land the Netherlands is the culmination of internal CDA discussions about immigration and integration. Van der Tak sounded out the opinions of other CDA members and social organisations before drawing up the report.

The workgroup pleads for labour migration similar to the US and Canadian models. It proposes a system of temporary job contracts such as the “green card” system used in the US.

A foreigner who is qualified for a job for which no Dutch worker can be found should be allowed entry to the Netherlands for 12 months, or three or five years, after which he or she must return to their country of origin. Should an expat wish to permanently remain in the Netherlands, they should be required to complete an integration exam, the workgroup proposes.

Should the CDA officially adopt the workgroup’s advice, it will represent a change in policy for the government coalition party, which has previously spoken reservedly against admitting more expat workers into the country. Only the CDA academic research institute has proposed such a policy in the past.

“Our economy needs these people, also to hold up the labour market as Europe ages in the coming decades,” Van der Tak said.

Main opposition party PvdA, and its leader Wouter Bos, are also in favour of a foreign labour migration system akin to the US green card and a party commission will publish a report this month echoing the PvdA line.

Coalition government party Liberal VVD has in the past expressed opposition to allowing more foreign workers into the country.

In its recent policy note, however, about the integration of non-western immigrants — in which it unveiled plans to restrict family unification migration and extend the amount of time before immigrants can claim social security benefits — the party did not mention expat workers.

But with Democrat D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst claiming the Netherlands is suffering economically because it places too many restrictions on the entry of skilled foreign workers and his demand that a policy be drawn up focusing on the transfer of knowledge, a government shift in favour of expat workers is in the wind.

Meanwhile, workgroup chairman Van der Tak also said that the development of an immigration policy aimed at highly-educated foreign workers should be a pre-condition for the implementation of a stronger asylum seeker policy in which only political refuges will be allowed entry to the Netherlands.

Van der Tak said native Dutch will more easily accept immigration if they see that new arrivals economically contribute to the economy. “Immigration is something that is presently leading to discord. That can be different,” he said.

He also challenged the argument that labour migration to western nations robs the developing countries of origin of their company executives. Highly-educated foreigners in these countries often work below their level and occupy jobs that are intended for lower-educated people, he said

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news