Municipalities to pilot ‘participation statements’ for newcomers to the Netherlands

Municipalities are to start pilot projects with 'participation statements' for newcomers to the Netherlands. The statements will advise newcomers of their rights and obligations and of the fundamental values that underpin Dutch society, as part of a broader package of measures intended to ensure successful integration.

Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Asscher today announced the pilot projects, which will begin in January 2014, in a letter to the House of Representatives.

The Minister believes that it is the government's role to make clear to everyone who comes to the Netherlands what their rights and obligations are. 'Newcomers are especially keen to learn about our values and what we expect from them. This helps them fit into Dutch society better and makes them less vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.' Besides participation statements, municipalities will also be deploying other means, such as information meetings, language courses and coaches to help immigrants adapt to Dutch society as well as they can. A brochure, called 'New to the Netherlands', will also be provided, containing information on housing, work, health care and education.

Participation statements are intended for migrants from both EU and non-EU countries. It is essential for EU migrant workers who take advantage of their freedom of movement to participate in Dutch society to the maximum possible extent. Workers from Bulgaria and Romania gain access to the labour market as of 1 January 2014, and the Minister is also adopting other measures to ensure that this free movement proceeds smoothly, for instance by taking tough action to tackle sham employment arrangements and rogue employers.

The following municipalities will definitely be taking part in the pilot projects: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Westland, 's-Hertogenbosch, Peel en Maas, Horst aan de Maas, Venray, Doetinchem, Enschede, Zundert (in cooperation with West Brabant region), Amersfoort, Ermelo, Harderwijk, Zeewolde, Spijkenisse and Waalwijk. Decisions are yet to be taken on participation by a number of other municipalities.