Netherlands reverts to old naturalisation rules
In the view of the Dutch government the immigration law which has been in effect since 2013 and places greater emphasis on personal responsibility has failed. Only 33 percent of the country's potential new citizens were able to demonstrate the required language skills and overcome the bureaucratic hurdles per year, compared to 80 percent per year under the old rules. Now local governments are to play a more important role in the naturalisation process once more. What is the press's take here?
Language skills are key
It's high time the system for gaining citizenship was reformed, NRC Handelsblad comments approvingly:
“There is still no system in which migrants, as the minister puts it, 'achieve the desired objective in an appropriate and swift manner and in large numbers'. It sounds logical to allow people to gain citizenship through work and language courses. But they must also have jobs or do voluntary work. Naturalisation is a prerequisite for integration. Language skills are an important instrument for this. Hardly anything isolates you more than when you don't speak the language that everyone around you speaks. For that reason this must be the focus of attention.”
Migrants need more support
De Volkskrant focusses on the most controversial point of the new Dutch naturalisation system:
“What's being criticised the most is the fact that new citizens would lose some autonomy and the right to social benefits. Not just language courses, but also accommodation and insurance costs will in future be paid directly by local government authorities. Is that unequal treatment, as the critics say? Not necessarily. Because the state can demand something in return from those who claim social benefits, but only if access to accommodation, education and healthcare is guaranteed. If the local government authorities fulfil their tasks honestly and conscientiously, that shouldn't be a problem.”