They want it to pass by the end of the year

Dutch Parliament urges bill on internationalisation

Internationalisering: taal Foto: Shutterstock, illustratie DUB
Photo: Shutterstock / DUB

On the second day of the National Budget Review, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, replied to all questions and comments from the House of Representatives. Migration was a hot topic once again, which comes as no surprise given that the cabinet has fallen due to irreconcilable differences in this regard.

The House discussed asylum seekers, migrant workers and, of course, foreign students. Rutte reminded the house that the Minister of Education, Robbert Dijkgraaf, has prepared a bill on the topic.

Limiting intake where necessary
“The bill includes measures relating to enrolment restrictions, the language of instruction, Dutch language skills, and the allocation of control”, Rutte said. “In the short term, we intend to make administrative arrangements with the institutions in the spirit of this law, so in the sense of limiting intake where necessary.”

In response to questions by Pieter Omtzigt, the PM indicated that the government isn’t planning any new policy on labour migration. As there is currently no deal on labour and asylum migration, policymakers can’t continue working on the topic.

“Everything is interlinked”, Rutte said, adding that “Dijkgraaf is smart as he’s continued with his plans for study-related migration, with full support from the council of ministers.” Study-related migration “could possibly be viewed as separate” from other migration, Rutte indicated.

His own party, VVD, believes there are possibilities beyond what Rutte said. Party Leader Sophie Hermans filed a motion together with Omtzigt, suggesting that the government should already commit to a stricter control of Europe’s external borders and that the Netherlands − specifically the Dutch Labour Authority − should place more stringent demands on migrant workers. Omtzigt and Hermans also want Dijkgraaf’s bill to be sent to the House of Representatives before the year is up. Finally, they wish to curb the right to student financing for EER students. In their motion, they advocate a waiting period for the awarding of a student grant, as well as rules prohibiting simultaneous application for student financing in two countries.

Leader of the CDA party Henri Bontenbal said he was surprised. “I would like to point out that a lot of attention is being paid to migration, the very subject that led to the government’s collapse”, he said. “So why did the coalition government collapse in the first place? Couldn’t you have organised all of this within the coalition still?” But Hermans retorted she saw things differently: her ambitions in the matter are more far-reaching than those of the outgoing government.

CDA did support the motion in the end, as did SP, ChristenUnie, SGP, BBB, JA21, PVV and Forum voor Democratie (plus three MPs that branched off from the latter party), which meant it was overwhelmingly accepted.