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Romanian minister says the Netherlands is xenophobic12 September 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
At a summit held in The Hague this week, the Romanian Minister for Labour Mariana Câmpeanu said there was more resistance in the Netherlands than almost anywhere else in the EU to free movement of workers from Romania and Bulgaria.
"Almost no land in Europe is as xenophobic as the Netherlands," she said. She also claimed the Netherlands was becoming more racist.
As of January 1 2014, Romania and Bulgaria will become full members of the union, with citizens from those countries able to move anywhere in the EU to work.
Dutch Minister for Social Afffairs Lodewijk Asscher has already laid out his concerns that cheap labour will flood the Netherlands once the borders have opened, likening them to a dike that is about to fail.
"Explain to me how a land that is known as a model country can be so burdened by a fear of strangers," Câmpeanu said at the summit, where she spoke with Minister Asscher, councillors and employers on labour migration.
She called Asscher’s fears of a labour flood "exaggerated" and said that the Netherlands is the least popular country for Romanians to go. She also said that concerns that most migrants from Romania were poorly educated were misplaced.
"They are generally very well integrated and speak the language. They make a huge contribution to the Dutch economy. They are the people whom we hope will one day return to Romania."
A Bulgarian colleague of Câmpeanu sketched the same picture, saying that all their young people who have seen opportunities in other lands have already gone. "Over the last 20 years, three million people have emigrated. The potential is exhausted."
Previously predicted floods of foreign workers from Eastern Europe have not always eventuated.
Photo by Flickr user indigo_jones
When the borders with Poland were opened in 2007, the numbers of Polish workers surged sharply, but it was not explosive.
That the numbers of migrants will increase is certain, however, according to Kim Putters, director of the Social and Cultural Planning Office. "Highly educated Bulgarians and Romanians will shun our land; they are more likely to go to Southern Europe."
Asscher has said that he doesn’t want to discuss the numbers, but to learn from the past. He also wants to take action before January 1, 2014, potentially acting on an upcoming investigation into the extent of displacement in the labour market.
The government has also recently issued new information on EU citizens wanting to move to the Netherlands. The government will also free up some money to register migrants in their local area and stimulate jobless migrants to return home.
They will also trial "participation contracts" in which Dutch labour rights and values are endorsed.