It sounds like a small hack for the troubled Rutte IV alliance: Of the three major headache files that have been waiting to be resolved through the ages, at least one has now submitted a plan of action. After long deliberations, the Council of Ministers announced on Friday a package of measures to address the problems in receiving asylum. This would also pave the way for concessions on the large purchasing power package (next week) and the nitrogen approach (in September).
There is still little sign of any relief at the moment. The measures were barely introduced on Friday when government parties had already come up with different interpretations of the agreements. For example, the VVD sees the Cabinet’s plans as a ‘major step towards stopping asylum’, with more security at the border, the non-admission of thousands of refugees allowed to come to the Netherlands according to the Turkey agreement and the postponement of family reunification for status. pregnant women.
Christinoni, partner of the alliance, sees it differently. In a letter to members, Member of Parliament Don Seder wrote that next year, instead of a thousand, five hundred refugees will be accepted under the Turkey agreement. He also stated that visas for the so-called “followers” – family members who hold the status – are issued after a “maximum period of six months”. “This is within the scope already provided by law, and therefore is not and should not be an extension.”
Long-term consequences for families
The two opposing sides within the coalition seem to understand Foreign Minister Eric van der Burgh’s statements (asylum) in their own way. Van der Burgh said Friday that residence holders are only allowed to bring their families once they have found a home. It is not clear how many months before this, but that did not reduce criticism from organizations such as Amnesty International and Defense for Children. They point to far-reaching consequences for families who must remain separated for a long time.
Asylum experts are also convinced that the government is acting in violation of European guidelines which state that there should be no conditions for family reunification of recognized refugees. The government can look forward to legal action, but it likely won’t have an impact on policy in the short term. The process takes a long time.
Whether the “asylum bargain” continues within the coalition will depend on tangible outcomes. For now, asylum seekers are still sleeping outdoors in Ter Apel. To solve this problem, more emergency shelter sites will have to be found in the coming days. Municipalities such as Delft, Arnhem and Emin were mentioned, but a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security did not want to confirm those places this weekend. Doetinchem on Sunday opened an emergency shelter for about 225 refugees.
Foreign Minister van der Burgh is now working on a law that would lead to a balanced distribution of asylum seekers across the municipalities. There are also different views on this within the coalition. According to VVD MP Brekelmans, coercion is now “off track”, as was the case in Tubbergen. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s not in the law.” According to ChristenUnie, the essence of the new law is precisely that municipalities are obligated to cooperate in reception and, if necessary, can also be forced.
Heavy pressure from opponents of the right
Above all, the Council of Ministers must ensure that the approximately sixteen thousand refugees holding a residence permit who are still held in the Asylum Seekers Center, move to a home more quickly. Only when this “gap” is removed will there be a place in the Asylum Seeker Centers for new asylum seekers who report to Ter Apel. In the next four months alone, about 7,500 resilient and equipped homes will be added. Another 30,000 in the next two years. According to housing market experts, it is doubtful whether this is possible given the permit procedures and the tight labor market. In recent years, the targets for the number of prefab flexible homes to be built have not been met.
If the outlook is very rosy and the reception crisis persists, tensions in the alliance may quickly return. To be sure, the VVD is under heavy pressure from right-wing rivals such as the PVV and JA21 to curb the influx of new asylum seekers. VVD MP Brekelmans wants to see in the coming months whether more needs to be done. On the contrary, Cedre MP Cristinoni said he sees some of the proposals as “simply painful” and that he will continue to fight for a “more humane reception”.
The compromise on asylum reception has not yet removed all tensions, but the fragile alliance could make some headway. The purchasing power package will dominate the coming days.
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