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Integration minister plans 'terms and conditions' contract for new migrants

New immigrants to the Netherlands should be required to sign a declaration that they will abide by the country’s constitution and laws, under plans set out by deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher.

Migrants from Eastern Europe have taken advantage from the freedom of movement as their countries joined the European Union.The ‘participation contract’ would be put to everybody arriving from another country when they register for residency in the Netherlands, including EU citizens.

Asscher said the plan was intended to strengthen integration by making new arrivals aware of their rights and obligations in Dutch society.

“If we continue with a non-committal approach we will pay a high price,” the social affairs minister told De Volkskrant. “Cultural integration is stalling, there are even signs of a regression in people’s attitudes to homosexuality, Jews and women.

“We want to make the qualities that make this country great clearer to people: the freedom to be yourself.”

However, it is unclear whether the contracts will be a precondition of settling in the Netherlands or have any legal force at all. European Union citizens, who accounted for 40 per cent of all new migrants in 2011, enjoy unconditional freedom of movement across the EU.

Migrants from elsewhere would have to sign the declaration at the same time that they take their integration exams, but Asscher also wants to include people who move to the Netherlands temporarily. The integration test is only compulsory for people who stay longer than three and a half years.

The picture could also be complicated for immigrants from Turkey, whose citizens have limited rights within Europe under an association treaty with the EU.

Asscher said he wanted a “warm and welcoming” integration policy, but warned there was a danger of “erosion” if basic rights were not universally respected.

“We will investigate what is legally possible,” he said. “If you no longer dare to set out what equal treatment really means, you run the risk that large groups of people no longer think of it as important.”

Source: De Volksrant: Asscher wil elke migrant contract laten tekenen