Expatica news

New expat policy ‘good, but EU must do more’

1 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — The European Union risks missing its target of admitting 700,000 new knowledge migrants by 2010, but the Netherlands had taken a step in the right direction by easing its entry conditions, Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst has claimed.

Speaking at the two-day International Conference on Knowledge Workers in The Hague on Thursday, the minister said despite the fact that the entry of highly skilled expats is accelerating, the EU might not reach its target.

Brinkhorst said Europe has world-renowned universities, but does not provide researchers with “a good career perspective” forcing “the talent” to relocate to the US. He also lamented a lack of co-operation between universities and commercial enterprises.

As a result, the Democrat D66 minister said at the European Union conference that the continent faces several threats: the outflow of exceptional talent, a shortage of research and development experts and the loss of knowledge-driven endeavours.

“We need to abandon fear and open up to … other people, cultures, knowledge and innovative ideas. I believe we have no choice but to do so, because renewal and economic growth inside Europe and those countries of origin is driven by the exchange of knowledge and ideas,” Brinkhorst said. 

But Brinkhorst said the Netherlands had taken “a step in a good direction” in easing its entry conditions for knowledge workers this week. He was referring to the abolition of work permits for expats who earn more than EUR 45,000 gross per year.

The new system came into place on Friday 1 October and allows expat workers to obtain a residence permit for five years, if they earn above the minimum threshold. The minister said the previous system involved too much paperwork and discouraged expats from entering the Netherlands.

The income criterion will not apply to foreigners entering into employment as a doctoral student at an educational or research institute or to postgraduates and university teachers under 30 years of age. Knowledge migrants under 30 years of age must earn at least EUR 32,600.

The change is designed to attract higher educated expats or “knowledge migrants” to the Netherlands and stimulate the “knowledge economy”. The measure is focused at specialists in ICT, technology and academic research.

Meanwhile, various media reported on Thursday that one third of asylum seekers staying in refugee shelters in the Netherlands are highly educated.

Upon questioning, Brinkhorst said it was “an interesting thought” to investigate whether these asylum seekers could be allowed to stay in the Netherlands as knowledge workers. He promised to discuss it with government colleagues.

[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news