Expatica news

EU ‘big bang’ will boost immigration to Holland

15 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — Up to 10,000 extra people annually will apply to immigrate to the Netherlands as a direct result of the “big bang” in May when 10 additional countries join the EU, according to a new report.

The government’s macroeconomic think-tank CPB said that most of the additional 5,000 to 10,000 applicants for immigration would come from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

The four, along with Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia, will be officially admitted to membership of the EU on 1 May this year. As this is the biggest enlargement in the EU’s history, the event has been dubbed the “big bang”.

Bulgaria and Romania hope to join the EU by 2007, while Turkey is also eager to join in the future.

Prime Minster Jan Peter Balkenende’s centre-right Dutch coalition government asked the CPB to study how EU expansion would affect immigration and the Dutch economy.

The request came after Cabinet division opened up after both Liberal VVD Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm and Christian Democrat CDA ministers raised concerns about a possible alarming rise in migration from Eastern Europe.

But Democrat D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst was more optimistic and the CPB figures were lower than expected, helping to ease cabinet concerns.

Immigration, particularly from Muslim countries, is a political hot potato in the Netherlands.

Murdered anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn became a household name in 2002 when he called for the Netherlands to close its borders.

Since then the mainstream parties have dedicated themselves to limiting immigration and to enact stronger measures to force immigrants already in the country to better integrate.

The CPB said that its figure of 5,000 to 10,000 additional immigrants was applicable only if the Netherlands did not insist on any restrictions on the free movement of labour — one of the EU’s cornerstone principles.

France and Germany have insisted on a transitional period from 1 May during which time the free movement of labour will be denied to citizens of the new Eastern and Central Europe member states.

Balkenende’s coalition Cabinet — made up of his Christian Democrat CDA, the free-market Liberal VVD and the Democrat D66 — has yet to take a decision on the issue of a transitional period.

The CBP said that in previous years about 10,000 seasonal workers annually came to the Netherlands from the new EU states, and 1,500 apply for a permanent residence permit each year.

This means that in the absence of a stay on the freedom of movement, the enlargement of the EU would lead to an additional influx of 3,500 to 8,500, the CPB said.

It also stated that the impact on the number of seasonal workers after the borders came down was still unclear.

The CBP predicted that the influx of new immigrants was unlikely to adversely impact employment levels in the Netherlands.

Because immigrants will not have a legal right to welfare benefits on arrival in the Netherlands, they will be obliged to get a job straight away. An important part of this group will get difficult-to-fill vacancies, the report said.

“Only in the event of a high inflow of immigrants would the CPB expect some repression of the labour market, by which unemployment could rise by a maximum of 9,000.”

The CBP said that after 2006, the net inflow of immigrants from mid and Eastern Europe would probably decrease. The speed at which this would happen was dependent on several factors, including the transition periods imposed by neighbouring EU states and economic developments.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + immigration