All foreigners who move to the Netherlands should be required to sign a contract in which they agree to uphold the Dutch constitution and the rule of law, according to social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher.
In an interview with the Volkskrant, Asscher says he wants to ensure the Netherlands has a ‘warm and caring’ integration policy but also that it is ‘clear and tough’. Signing a contract would make sure immigrants are better aware of the norms and values in the country in which they live.
‘If we don’t take steps, we will pay an enormous price,’ Asscher told the paper. ‘Cultural integration is breaking down, and we are moving backwards in terms of the way we look at homosexuality, Jews and women. We have to be clear about what makes this land so great: the freedom to be yourself.’
Asscher wants to ensure every migrant, including people from the European Union, sign what he calls a ‘participation contract’ when they register with their local authority.
According to the Volkskrant, it is not clear if signing the paper could be a precondition for registration. Asscher also said he is going to find out if the contract can be made compulsory for EU residents and Turkish nationals, who are currently exempt from the compulsory integration exam.
In addition, Asscher thinks the integration exam for non-EU citizens should be expanded to cover questions about Dutch values. At the moment it focuses on language and practicalities.
Asscher said he hopes the discussion document, sent to parliament on Tuesday night, will mark the start of a new phase in the integration debate, particularly with regard to EU citizens.
The minister is also in charge of the government’s integration policy. The government is known to be concerned that large numbers of Romanian and Bulgarians will move to the Netherlands when borders are opened next year.
‘The free movement of people without paying attention to the problems it can bring will lead to a more antisocial Europe,’ he said.
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