New integration system still has problems, says Council of State

The government’s plan to overhaul the current civic integration programme does include some benefits but still fails to take all the problems with the current system into account, the Council of State says in its official recommendations.

The council, the government’s highest advisory body, says the recognition that some new arrivals are not in a position to organise language and other lessons themselves is to be welcomed.

However, the strict division between refugees, who will be given maximum assistance, and other immigrants, means some people who need help will be left to fend for themselves. At the same time, some refugees who are capable of finding their way will have to deal with too much control and guidance, the council said.

In addition, the decision to raise the bar in terms of language exams ‘may not always be useful’, and the approach should be more tailor-made, the council said.

The body also criticised the government’s time frame. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees wants the new legislation to come into effect in July 2021. However, some of the pilot projects which are relevant to the new system are still ongoing, the council points out.

And local councils, who are being given a greater role in the process, will also need sufficient time to set up lessons and other programmes, the council said.


The new legislation aims to increase the focus on work and participation in society and refugees will be able to start their integration process while still living in refugee centres.

In the new system, the loans will be scrapped and local authorities are being given responsibility for integrating new arrivals from outside the EU.

Council officials will have to devise an individual integration plan (PIP) for everyone required to take the exams but, apart from refugees, newcomers will be able to choose their own language schools and lesson times. People with jobs won’t have to take courses about finding a job.

Some new arrivals under the age of 28 will also be expected to obtain a formal Dutch school leaving certificate.

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