A host of new legislation came into effect on January 1. The most controversial is the law on compulsory integration (inburgering) for many non-EU immigrants. This means both new immigrants and people who have lived in the Netherlands for many years will have to take standard tests to prove they can speak Dutch and understand how Dutch society operates.
The law was introduced by hardline integration minister Rita Verdonk despite pleas from local councils who said they are not up to speed on the new rules.
Meanwhile the police have been given new powers to fight terrorism as from January 1. According to the Telegraaf, the police can now use infiltration, telephone-tapping and set up entrapment operations if there are indications a terrorist attack is being prepared.
The paper also reports that new rules for taxi charges have come into effect from the beginning of this year, but will only be compulsory from July. The changes mean passengers can only be charged for distance travelled rather than the time a journey actually takes. And people who go fishing will now need a permit (vispas) to use their rods, although children under 14 are exempt if accompanied by an adult.
Pensions, child benefit and some social security payments also went up from January 1. In particular, people who claim invalidity payments will benefit from the changes which give them 75% of their last-earned salary, up from 70%.
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