Cities are wrong to couple BSN number to housing, says minister

Rotterdam and The Hague will be breaking EU rules by refusing to give key BSN tax numbers to Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who can’t prove they have an approved place to stay, says social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher.

The cities’ authorities are planning to introduce accommodation checks for Romanian and Bulgarian workers before assigning them a BSN number, the AD reported on Monday morning.

Officials want to ensure new arrivals have a decent place to live in an effort to stop them being exploited by unscrupulous landlords or causing a nuisance to other residents.

Asscher said he understands the arrival of a large number of migrants can lead to problems but says refusal to assign a BSN number is illegal. In addition, such a policy will not lead to more rogue landlords and employers being caught, the minister said.

Work permits

Meanwhile, Asscher said in an interview with the NRC on Monday he anticipates many more Bulgarian and Romanian nationals coming to the Netherlands than current estimates indicate. ‘The official prognoses are low, earlier forecasts were also wrong,’ Asscher said in the interview.

Asscher also told the paper he would have liked to keep the work permit restrictions which currently apply to Romanians and Bulgarians in place for longer, but this is not possible under EU rules. ‘If you have an agreement with other countries, you have to stick to it,’ he said.

European social affairs ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss labour migration issues.

According to the NRC, Asscher has been given extra time to explain his warning earlier this year that the Netherlands faces a ‘code orange’ warning. The article, published in full on, did not go down well in Brussels, the paper says.

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