Labour migration rules for EU citizens tightened up

The cabinet is tightening up the rules to put the inflow of migrants from other EU countries into the Netherlands on the right track. Ministers Kamp of Social Affairs and Employment, Donner of Interior and Kingdom Relations, and Leers for Immigration and Asylum Policy, together with the mayors and aldermen of the municipalities most concerned, have examined in detail the rules, their implementation, and the cooperation issues involved.

Their shared conclusions and agreements are summarised in a letter to the Lower House, which minister Kamp will send today on behalf of ministers Donner and Leers among others. The letter will also be sent to the municipal councils.

The tightening-up relates to the registration of migrants, combating exploitation, tackling mala fide employment agencies, improving accommodation, and the return of migrants to their own country if they do not have work. The principal reason for these measures is the increased labour migration from Central and Eastern Europe, but they apply in fact to all EU citizens. There are an estimated 200,000 people from these countries in the Netherlands. Migrants are permitted to work here, but the growing number of migrant workers is creating problems such as the growing burden placed on social security benefits, exploitation, and overcrowding.

Conference with municipalities, implementers and other organisations involved
Minister Kamp in cooperation with the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Westland has organised a conference for 20 April 2011 to discuss the planned measures with municipalities, implementers, and the other organisations involved such as housing associations. Migrant worker organisations and representatives from the countries concerned are also invited to the conference.

Putting EU citizen labour migration on the right track

The cabinet is taking measures to put the presence and departure of migrant workers in the Netherlands on the right track. These measures are designed to ensure that migrant workers have a better understanding of their rights and obligations, that they register themselves more quickly in the places where they are living, that more accommodation is available for people working here, and that people who do not have work here return to their own countries. The most important measures are:
• A person from Europe with insufficient means of support is not allowed to remain in the Netherlands. The tests will be stricter and regulations tightened up in this regard. European migrant workers who have been here more than three months and still have no (prospects of) work will lose the right of residence.
• The cabinet is mapping out an action plan to have the European directive on the free movement of persons changed, in the specific sense that the right of residence should come to lapse for persons with insufficient means of support who have worked in the Netherlands for more than one, but less than five years (and are therefore not eligible for social assistance benefit either).
• The cabinet is taking measures to improve compliance with the existing registration obligation; at present many migrant workers do not register at either the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) or the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP), even though they are supposed to do both. The cabinet would also like to ensure that municipalities know the residential address of those concerned from the very first day they start working here, so that (for example) accommodation issues can be better managed.
• The cabinet will encourage housing associations and municipalities to reach agreements that will take migrant workers better into account in the housing supply.
• The cabinet will take steps to provide more information wherever necessary, working in cooperation with municipalities, employer and employee organisations, migrant organisations and the countries of origin.
• It will be possible to declare persistent offenders from other EU countries to be undesirable aliens, and subsequently have them removed from the Netherlands. This also includes those who have committed ‘less serious’ crimes, whereby the persistent offender nevertheless constitutes a serious threat to public order and safety.

Tackling problems and excesses

The cabinet is adopting firm measures to tackle the existing problems in relation to migrant workers from Central and Eastern Europe:
• Employers who withhold too high a percentage of their workers’ wages, for housing and transport costs for example, will be fined.
• The cabinet will have the Social Support Act (Wmo) amended so that non-active aliens (from Europe) who have been in the Netherlands for less than 3 months and those looking for work will no longer be eligible for Wmo benefits.
• Foreigners (from Europe and elsewhere) will only be eligible for social assistance benefits and accommodation support if their right of residence has been determined by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. The Aliens Act Implementation Guidelines (Vc), Act on Employment and Social Assistance (WWB) and Wmo will be tightened up in this regard.
• Anyone receiving a social assistance benefit who does not speak Dutch will be required to take and successfully complete a Dutch language course as soon as possible. Failure to fulfil this condition will lead to reduction or stopping of the social assistance benefit.
• The Netherlands and Poland will tackle mala fide employment agencies jointly. In the Netherlands compulsory registration will be introduced for employment agencies, with fines for non-compliance. The cabinet wants to have this measure in place from 1 January 2012.
• The minister for the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) is changing the Housing Act, so that municipalities will be in a better position to take effective measures against overcrowding.

Conference with municipalities, implementers and other organisations involved

Minister Kamp in cooperation with the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Westland has organised a conference for 20 April 2011 to discuss the planned measures with municipalities, implementers, and the other organisations involved such as housing associations. Migrant worker organisations and representatives from the countries concerned are also invited to the conference.