Tackling the refugee problem

The Netherlands is working with the other European Union (EU) member states to resolve the refugee problem. 

Aim of approach

A collective EU approach should restrict and manage refugee flows to Europe. At the same time, people fleeing war and oppression must be assured of protection.

Efforts to solve the refugee problem

The European Union (EU) seeks to resolve the refugee problem in the following ways:

Addressing the root causes

People flee their countries because of conflicts or for economic reasons. The EU seeks to address the root causes of refugee flows, so that fewer people come to Europe. The EU is working to help achieve peace in a number of countries, including Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, and to end oppression in countries like Eritrea.

The EU also seeks to create employment opportunities in countries large numbers of economic refugees come from. Many of these projects are carried out by NGOs or international organisations, with financial support from the EU and the Netherlands.

Reception in the region of origin

The EU supports the reception of refugees in the region of origin so that people don’t have to undertake dangerous journeys and can return to their countries more easily once it is safe to do so. The EU helps countries that take in refugees in various ways. For example by building reception camps and providing education for children and medical care.

Combatting people smuggling

People smugglers cause a great deal of misery. They often mislead people into thinking they can easily get asylum or a job in Europe. They trick them into undertaking dangerous journeys, in the course of which many migrants die, in deserts or at sea.

To tackle people smuggling effectively, the Netherlands works closely with other EU member states, and with international and European organisations and agencies, such as Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency), Interpol (the international criminal police organisation) and Frontex (the European border and coast guard agency). These bodies support the member states, for instance by identifying smuggling networks and providing information for investigations. Working with countries of origin and transit is also very important. For example, the EU helps African countries in their efforts to guard their coastlines and borders.

Strengthening the Schengen Area’s external borders

Most EU countries belong to the Schengen Area. People can travel freely within the Schengen Area. The EU countries on the external Schengen borders are going to step up their efforts to guard those borders more closely, to stop the unchecked influx of migrants. Frontex, the European border and coast guard agency, helps to guard the EU’s external borders.

Reception and registration of refugees at the EU’s external borders

The EU is helping Greece and Italy with the reception and registration of refugees at the EU’s external borders. Refugees’ fingerprints are taken and stored in a European database. Registering such detailed information means that at a later date, authorities can establish when and where a refugee entered the EU.

Asylum or return

All refugees entering the EU may apply for asylum. They must do this in the country where they enter the EU. Asylum seekers who do not require protection must return to their country of origin or to a safe third country. The EU respects the human rights of refugees, both when dealing with their applications and with regard to return.

More reception in the region

The government wants to limit the influx of refugees by providing more reception in the region. It seeks to do this by working with the other EU member states and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.

The government wants to maintain public support for the reception of genuine refugees. To this end, it seeks to speed up the return of economic refugees and asylum seekers from safe countries to their countries of origin. It also wants asylum seekers who are allowed to stay to integrate into Dutch society more quickly, for instance by having them learn Dutch at a much earlier stage.