Sunday 27 November 2022

Housing minister calls for immigration curbs, current rate ‘could disrupt society’

Hugo de Jonge talking to reporters. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The current growth in the population of the Netherlands is unsustainable, will add to the pressure on housing and could potentially disrupt society, housing minister Hugo de Jonge has told the Nederlands Dagblad.

The Christian Democrat minister told the ND, a Protestant paper, that everyone can see ‘we cannot continue to grow by the size of Zoetermeer’.

The growth in the population of some 100,000 a year ‘must go down a lot’, De Jonge told the paper. ‘There will always be migration and it is needed, but you can see now that we are asking too much of society,’ the minister said.

According to figures from national statistics agency CBS, the population of the Netherlands has grown by one million in the past 10 years, and is now 17.7 million.

A total of 208,000 foreign nationals moved to the Netherlands last year, after a year in which immigration fell sharply because of the coronavirus restrictions. The biggest group, nearly 117,500, came from other EU countries or the EFTA, while returning Dutch nationals from abroad accounted for almost 44,500 ‘new’ arrivals.

The total population grew by 115,000, once births, deaths and emigration are taken into account.

While there are limits to what the Netherlands can do because of international treaties, some neighbouring countries are doing a ‘better job’ at limiting numbers, De Jonge said. ‘You cannot just shrug your shoulders about growth that has the potential to disrupt everything we find important.’

Policy

The current coalition government, made up of the right-wing VVD and CDA, the Liberal Democrats D66 and the small Christian party ChristenUnie, includes a commitment to setting immigration targets and a ‘fundamental revision’ of asylum policy.

De Jonge refused to give specific target figures. ‘That is something we have to do together,’ he said. ‘We want to keep support for migration and that is why we need to have a grip on it.’

‘We have to look carefully at what sectors we have a shortage of workers in and where we have to be more selective,’ he said.

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