The Dutch government is pressing ahead with plans to require all non-EU citizens who move to the Netherlands to sign a declaration pledging to uphold Dutch values and to play an active role in society.
Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher plans to introduce the contract, which people will have to sign before they start an integration course, from July 1.
Asscher told current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Thursday night that the declaration adds an important dimension to the integration process. ‘You are saying “I support these values”,’ the minister told the programme. ‘It is about more than how the tram works or the language. These are the values which protect us all.’
MPs will vote on the proposal at the end of January. According to Nieuwsuur, the two Liberal parties in parliament – VVD and D66 – do not support the introduction of the contract, arguing that it is symbolic.
The decision to press ahead with the contract follows what the government says is ‘successful trials’ of the concept in 13 councils between March 2014 and March 2015.
In total, just over 4,000 people were involved in the trials and 1,500 completed the courses and signed the official declaration, a report for the social affairs ministry shows.
The participation declaration programme will form the first part of the main integration course and people who refuse to sign could be fined up to €1,250.
What does the participation declaration say? Here’s a translation of the version currently being used in town halls around the country.
Welcome to the Netherlands!
The Netherlands is a constitutional democracy. This means that everyone has the same rights and that everyone must obey the same laws. In the Netherlands, the values of freedom, equality and solidarity are central. These values are connected to rights which also apply to you.These values can only be upheld if everyone actively contributes to society. In the Netherlands, participation is extremely important.
In the Netherlands, everyone may think, do and say what he will. This means that: Everyone can express their own opinions
Everyone may have their own belief and is free to decide whether to believe or not
Everyone has the right to his or her own sexual preference
Everyone has the right to make their own choices and independence
There are boundaries to this. What someone says or does may never conflict with the law. For example, you may not deliberately insult someone, discriminate against them or stimulate hatred.
In the Netherlands, all citizens are treated equally. Discrimination on the grounds of sex, belief, origin or sexual preference is not accepted.
In the Netherlands, citizens are responsible for society. Citizens have the right to live in a safe environment, to decent housing, to fair labour contracts, a minimum wage when they work, good education and good medical care. The government has a duty to protect people against exploitation and unfair treatment. In principle, citizens must ensure they can look after themselves. If that is not possible, and no-one else can help, the government will offer help.
In the Netherlands, we ask all citizens to contribute to a pleasant and safe society, for example, by working, going to school or doing voluntary work. This can be done in the neighbourhood, at school or through an association. Speaking Dutch is very important in this.
I declare that I have taken note of the above listed Dutch society values and that I will repect them. I declare that I want to make an active contribution to Dutch society and that I expect to be given the space and the cooperation of my fellow citizens to do this.
Please note, this is a rough translation by DutchNews.nl for information purposes only