Omtzigt calls for firm cap on many forms of immigration at 50,000 people per year
Pieter Omtzigt (NSC) wants to cap migration to the Netherlands at 50,000 people annually. That includes asylum seekers, migrant workers, knowledge migrants (ex-pats), and students, he said during his chance to speak in the general budget debate on Wednesday.
Omtzigt linked the housing shortage to migration. “We are currently 390,000 homes short. If we want to solve the housing shortage, we cannot allow such a large migration flow: 107,000 people in 2021 and 223,000 in 2022. If you build 70,000 homes per year, your waiting lists will only increase,” he said.
“Is the Cabinet prepared to implement the labor market measures agreed upon in the Cabinet so that labor migration decreases? Is it prepared to limit student migration?” Omtzigt wanted to know. Omtzigt, who has long spoken out against “internationalization” in the Netherlands, again brought up the use of English instead of Dutch in the country. “The study of public administration at the University of Twente is now in English, while everyone in public administration actually speaks Dutch. Is the Cabinet prepared to really take action against it?”
Due to widespread staff shortages throughout the Dutch labor market, the Netherlands is pretty reliant on migrants, knowledge migrants in particular. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) recently reported that 32 percent of international students who study in the Netherlands go on to work here. Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf of Education called it good news that more international graduates contribute to the Dutch knowledge economy, but he would like that percentage to be higher. “We desperately need international talent, especially in shortage sectors like technology and IT,” he said.
As migration is high on the political agenda, given that it was the issue that caused the Rutte IV government to collapse, many ex-pats are worried about their position in the Netherlands. Political scientist Jeroen Doomernik of the University of Amsterdam thought it unlikely that the next Cabinet would make too many changes to knowledge migrants’ income requirements and other conditions. Deterring knowledge migrants would be “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs,” he said.
The debate in the Tweede Kamer on Wednesday and Thursday is technically about the budget plans the outgoing Rutte IV Cabinet presented this week, but the politicians are also using their platform to campaign for the parliamentary election on November 22. Omtzigt and his new party have been polling among the frontrunners for the upcoming elections.
The general budget debate continues on Thursday when outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Cabinet will have a chance to speak.