Participation declarations for new EU immigrants

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Immigrants from fellow EU countries will as of next year be presented with a "participation declaration" upon their registration in the Netherlands. Social Affairs Minister Lodewijk Asscher explained to the Second Chamber that this non-binding contract is designed to prevent abuse of job seeking East Europeans.

Lodewijk_Asscher (Sander van der Torren) Wikimedia

The declaration will as of January 1st be taken on a test run in 16 cities, including larger ones like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but also in smaller towns like Zundert, the Westland and Horst aan de Maas that get a lot of East European immigrants.

Minister Asscher explained in his letter to Parliament that the participation declaration explains the immigrants what their rights and duties of employees and employers in the Netherlands.  The declaration also outlines Dutch values, norms and freedoms. "Mostly it has symbolic value, meant to advance integration and prevent that employees from Eastern Europe are taken advantage of," the Minister wrote.

The dual-language declaration comes as Romanians and Bulgarians a set to become full-fledged EU citizens as of January next year; past experiences have taught that East Europeans fall prey to scrupulous recruitment firms.

The declaration replaces a previous proposal by Minister Asscher to introduce a contract that new residents would have to sign; non-EU citizens are already required to sit through an integration exam, but the contract could not apply to EU citizens as the Union arranges for free movement and employment for people from all member states.

Asscher: 'Integration is seen too black-and-white. Too often immigration is viewed as a problem -like Wilders does- as if immigrants can do no right. That does not help. We have to be strict, but also welcoming and loving. We should show that immigrants are welcome, but that they also have to realize that they have arrived in a great nation. They should unstated which values and freedoms we have here, respect them and apply them. And that they’re not the same as the values of their countries of origin don’t. The participation declaration is an expression thereof," said Asscher.

He pointed at matters like “freedom, equality, solidarity” as being very important. “Freedom of religion, speech and association. Equal treatment of man and woman, of gays and heterosexuals. Solidarity in it being your duty to secure your daily living, and your right to request support when that’s not possible.”