Netherlands asylum policy among strictest in EU

The Netherlands' asylum policy is one of the strictest in the European Union. In only five other European countries asylum seekers have less chance of getting refugee status than in the Netherlands, according to a study done by the WODC, Justice Ministry's scientific research and documentation center, the Volkskrant reports.

The Netherlands does issue many residency permits, but that is because most of the asylum seekers arriving in the country are from Syria or Eritrea, instead of relatively safe countries in Eastern Europe and West Africa. A massive 91 percent of all Syrians and Eritreans requesting asylum in the Netherlands get refugee status.

"The fear that the Netherlands is much more flexible than other countries appears to be unfounded", researcher Arjen Leekers said to the newspaper. "If you correct the percentage of residency permits to country of origin and compare it wit other countries, we turn out not to be exceptional in Europe." Countries like Germany, France and Denmark are less stringent than the Netherlands.

After the results of this study, State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice wrote to parliament that the Netherlands, as EU President, will ensure that there is harmonization in the EU's asylum policy. This should prevent asylum seekers simply traveling to the country where they are most likely to be granted refugee status.