[Press Release] No open borders for workers from Romania and Bulgaria

Official press release
Until January 1, 2014, the borders will remain closed for labour migrants from Romania and Bulgaria. The government does not want any free movement of workers from these countries as long as unemployment rates are rising and there is an imminent recession. Moreover, it is undesirable that, in our country, 500.000 people who are able to work receive a benefit, and that, at the same time, the business sector attracts an increasing number of labour migrants.

The cabinet agreed with the sending of a letter on this topic to the House of Representatives by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Mr Kamp, also on behalf of the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Minister of Immigration and Asylum. The government will inform the European Commission of this decision by December 31, 2011.

The number of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe is larger than expected. Based on the most recent estimates, there are between 286.000 and 325.000 migrants in the Netherlands. Labour migration has a number of positive effects, but, on the other hand, also causes a number of problems. The government is currently dealing with the problems caused by the large flow of migrants.

While these problems are being dealt with, no more new labour migrants should come to the Netherlands. According to the estimates of the CPB, Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a maximum of 20.000 Romanians and Bulgarians will come to the Netherlands every year if the borders will be fully opened for workers from these countries.

The letter also describes the progress of the measures announced by the government and the municipalities in April 2011 in order to deal with the problems of labour migration. For example, since April 2011, the enforcement by the Labour Inspectorate in case of underpayment has been tightened and, in Vaals, a start has been made with checking a person's right of residence if there are any doubts about that when this person applies for social assistance, and a legislative proposal has been sent to the House of Representatives which provides for the obligation of temporary agencies to register.

Moreover, the government has made agreements with Belgium about the approach to fraudulent temporary agencies. In addition, the government is consulting other EU countries about measures in order to properly supervise labour migration.

The letter also includes the government's response to the conclusions of the Lura parliamentary committee, which learnt lessons from recent labour migration. Broadly speaking, the committee supports the measures earlier announced by the government. The government wants labour migrants to qualify for a social assistance benefit only after they have worked in the Netherlands for five years. Currently, labour migrants may qualify for social assistance after one year.

The committee, too, is of the opinion that labour migrants should less quickly qualify for social security benefits and asks the government to enter into discussions with Europe in order to change the rules. Just like the committee, the government believes that fraudulent temporary agencies should be dealt with severely. In addition, it is the labour migrant's own responsibility to make his stay in the Netherlands a success. The government may set preconditions, but it is the labour migrant's own choice to work in the Netherlands.

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment



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