Eric van der Burg (right), State Secretary for Justice and Security and Hugo de Jonge, Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning, in September during a debate on asylum reception in the House of Representatives.Statue Freek van den Bergh / de Volkskrant

    Now that the VVD parliamentary party has finally agreed on Tuesday with the dispersal law of its own State Secretary, there is room for broadening the asylum debate. Next Monday, the House of Representatives will continue to talk with Eric van der Burg, the VVD minister for asylum and migration, about his budget.

    Because for the time being, the daily laborious search for shelter places will continue. The compulsory distribution of the various types of reception (trial locations, asylum seekers’ centres, accommodation for unaccompanied minor foreign nationals) per province and subsequently across the 344 municipalities can take effect on 1 February at the earliest. The bill is now in consultation, has yet to pass the Council of State, and only then can the House of Representatives and the Senate discuss it in separate debates.

    That may be a mandatory number with a guaranteed majority, for the time being mayors still have to improvise with the inevitable (crisis) emergency shelter. The Security Council has informed the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) that this will come to an end on 1 April, after the judge in a case brought by the Council for Refugees previously ruled that such ad hoc facilities do not meet European standards.

    ‘No magic wand’

    “The law is not a magic wand with which all problems are solved at once,” says Anne-Marijke Podt, Member of Parliament for D66, the coalition party that had to watch over the past few months with the CDA and ChristenUnie how the VVD continued to oppose mandatory distribution. Van der Burg did not want to submit the law without the agreement of his own group, although he could also count on support from left-wing opposition parties such as SP, PvdA and GroenLinks.

    With the agreement ‘there will be more peace in the tent’, Podt expects. ‘The reception chain can recover. Calling every night and begging for more places to sleep is gone. We come into a calmer atmosphere, with less panic. I also expect that municipalities will anticipate the consequences of the law, although a lot will still have to be done in implementation.’

    The government’s intention is to create a permanent, ‘fixed stock’ of reception places. Based on the Ministry of Justice and Security’s own forecasts, there should be 55 thousand in 2023, Van der Burg has written to the House. He also wants to present this autumn a plan for a ‘fundamental reorientation of the asylum and reception system’.

    Lower asylum flow

    And Van der Burg is not alone in this. On Tuesday, VVD leader Mark Rutte was instructed by his group to quickly reduce the influx of asylum seekers, in exchange for support for the dispersion law. Van der Burg has repeatedly said that the possibilities are limited, but on this point VVD and CDA are united. CDA MP René Peters said in a radio interview at the end of October that the intake should be reduced by 80 percent. “We’re not going to keep this up.” There is a lot of support for that position on the right wing of the House, which means that the potential conflict substance remains in the coalition.

    Podt points to the coalition agreement. It states that the government aims for ‘more control over migration’. The independent Migration Advisory Council has been asked to provide a ‘policy guideline for migration to the German example’. This concerns the expected labour, knowledge and asylum migration, not a quota. ‘This advice will weigh heavily in policy development’, according to the coalition agreement. It is expected before the political Christmas recess.

    Expert meeting

    During an expert meeting at the Central Planning Bureau on Wednesday, it emerged that there is broad agreement among scientists about the main factor underlying the arrival of migrants: the attractiveness of an economy. According to Canadian-American economist and Nobel laureate David Card, the best way for a country to limit migration is to destroy its economy.

    On the other hand, the Dutch economy is doing well, with a very small number of unemployed. The question of how many migrants a country can handle – revived by the CBS figures last month about a population growth of 188 thousand in the first nine months of this year – is therefore also the question: what kind of country, with what kind of economy do we want to be? ? A country with floriculture and a meat-processing industry that provides many low-paid jobs, or should things be done differently?

    Tension force

    In May, the Labor Inspectorate pleaded for ‘stabilisation’ of the population size and a fundamental reorientation on ‘labour’ in the Netherlands. Inspector General Rits de Boer wrote in the annual report that the housing market cannot cope with the arrival of even more labor migrants, there is too much exploitation and the pressure on education is too great.

    Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Housing, CDA) recently joined the Dutch daily newspaper at. ‘There will always be migration and that is necessary, but you now see that we are questioning the tension of society.’ For example, ‘limits to growth’, according to the famous report from 1972, seem topical again fifty years later.