Timmermans: Alienated minorities a massive concern

Frans Timmermans, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current vice president of the European Commission, thinks that none Dutch people living in the Netherlands or the rest of Europe for three or four generations are in bigger danger of becoming the new underclass than asylum seekers and refugees are, he said to NU.nl following a debate in The Hague on Thursday.

"We as Europeans have a greater challenge for the parts of our own people who have been living here in complete hopelessness for maybe three or four generations, because they think they are not allowed to or can not participate", Timmermans said. He thinks it is more difficult to reach the alienated ethnic minorities than it is to reach refugees and asylum seekers just arriving. According to him, refugees are generally better educated and are more willing to adapt, which facilitates integration.

"Our real problem lies much more in our own community groups who are gradually threatening to become a new underclass", Timmermans said, adding that they are especially sensitive to radicalization. "They have to participate as fast as possible, but also have to be dealt with harshly if they commit a crime. We can no longer afford a blind-eye-society."

Timmermans believes that education and employment opportunities are the solutions for keeping both alienated minorities and refugees on the right path.\

Timmermans also told NU that he will not be giving the United Kingdom any unwanted advice on them leaving the European Union - the so-called Brexit - during the Netherlands' term as president. "The Brits are not waiting on foreigners to tell them what is good for them", he said. "If the Commission is asked to give information or to participate in the discussion, we will definitely do so. But we will not tell the Brits what to think."