The Dutch cabinet wants Europe to develop a long-term policy in which only refugees who have first registered in areas close to war zones would be considered for settlement in an EU country.
The Netherlands is to argue for such an approach at the European Council meeting in Brussels next Monday, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
In the short term, the cabinet has agreed with efforts by the European Commission to spread the flow of refugees into Greece, Hungary and Italy around Europe. The Netherlands is being asked to take some 9,200 refugees, according to leaked documents.
‘The EU is coming under growing pressure in terms of immigration and this will not lessen in the short term,’ Dijkhoff said in a briefing to MPs.
The long-term Dutch plan would involve drawing up agreements with countries which are considered safe so that official reporting centres can be set up. Refugees would be given a residency permit for a specific EU country and would not be allowed to travel on elsewhere.
In addition, the Netherlands will send an extra €110m to countries which are caring for the bulk of the refugees, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, Dijkhoff said. The money will come from the development aid budget.
Opposition parties have slammed the agreement as being unworkable and inhumane. ‘All you are doing is shoving the problem away from you,’ Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer said. Two or three countries are currently providing help to four million refugees, he pointed out. ‘That means our €110m represents 25 cents a refugee.’
Groenlinks leader Jessie Klaveren said the plan ‘conflicts with the fundamental principle that people who knock on our door because they are fleeing from war and violence should be offered a place of safety.’
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