Tuesday 24 June 2008, by Besselink Leonard F. M.
The Netherlands has set an example to a range of other EU Member States in devising measures to integrate immigrants not only as a goal in itself, but as part of a restrictive migration policy. This essay describes the vicissitudes of ‘integration programmes’ (inburgering) in the Netherlands. It focuses on law, and we reflect in particular on the legislation through which these programmes were to be enforced.
The legislative history illustrates how ‘integration of minorities’ turned from social policy issue into an immigration issue, from a problem to be addressed with social measures based on ‘soft law’ to one which is to be tackled with legislation enforced with sanctions.
The legal issue of equal treatment is raised throughout this paper. The assumption, firstly, that integration is an issue of citizenship – which is inherent in the Dutch term inburgeringas we shall presently explain – while, secondly, only certain categories of citizens are to be subjected to the requirement of inburgeringcreates previously non-existent distinctions of categories and degrees of citizenship. From the perspective of equal treatment and non-discrimination, these various categorizations have been problematical.
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