EU labour migration in spotlight, minister presses on with ‘contract’

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher is setting up a research project to look at claims Dutch people are being squeezed out of jobs by cheaper workers from eastern Europe.

At the same time, the minister is pressing ahead with controversial plans to force EU ‘labour migrants’ to sign ‘participation contracts’ pledging to obey Dutch laws when they arrive in the Netherlands.

Asscher made the announcements on Monday at a meeting in The Hague to discuss labour migration within Europe.

The minister, who earlier warned that urgent action is needed to curb the free movement of people within the EU, hopes to use the results of the research to persuade the European Commission to take steps.

Skills

‘Social dumping is a phenomenon,’ Asscher said in an interview with website nu.nl. ‘We, together with Denmark and Britain, have decided to make an issue out of it… until something changes. In Brussels they are so worried about criticism they ignore legitimate criticism as well.’

The research project will look at what the Netherlands can do to stop Dutch workers being forced out and to ensure more highly-skilled European nationals move to the Netherlands. They have a better chance of integrating into Dutch society, Asscher said.

The Netherlands has already reached agreement with Romania and Bulgaria on informing ‘potential migrants’ about their chances of finding work in the Netherlands.

Asscher told the conference he plans to make the same agreement with Poland. Romanian and Bulgarian nationals can move to the Netherlands without restrictions from January 2014.

Registration

At the same time, agreements have been made to improve the registration of other EU nationals in the Netherlands, Asscher said. And a number of councils have agreed to set up pilot projects to ensure new arrivals sign a ‘participation contract’ agreeing to uphold Dutch laws.

Romania’s social affairs minister Mariana Campeanu, who was at the conference, told news agency Novum she did not understand what Asscher meant.

‘I will tell him I believe in an approach in which all citizens have the same rights. There can be no question of having two classes of EU citizens,’ she said.

Supermarkets

The minister has also made agreements with supermarkets and the agricultural sector to ensure workers are not exploited.

This means making sure they are paid in line with Dutch sector-wide pay agreements, do not work longer than allowed by law and are not employed via dummy jobs agencies.

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