Jun 01, 2023 at 7:47 PMUpdate: 6 hours ago
The organizations that will have to deal with the distribution law do not like its implementation in its current form. According to them, the bill is too complex and will not lead to a fair distribution of the reception places for asylum seekers. The parties urged the House of Representatives to amend the law during a hearing on Thursday.
The organizations are very concerned about the feasibility of the law. “We are concerned. You can make very nice laws in The Hague, but we have seen too often that there are laws that cause problems in implementation. Lower governments are confronted with this,” said Jan de Reus. As a provincial administrator, he is a member of the Interprovincial Consultation (IPO), the association that defends the interests of the twelve provinces.
Since the autumn of 2021, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) has been flooded with water. Last summer, people regularly had to sleep outside at the application center in Ter Apel. And the crisis emergency shelter can no longer be called temporary. The law, which should have been in force if it had been up to State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum), must provide sufficient reception places for asylum seekers in the future.
The proposal involves a complex process. Every two years, the number of reception places required is determined on the basis of the expected number of asylum seekers. If municipalities then offer sustainable reception locations in the first round, they will receive a reward of 2,500 euros per location. If there are still not enough reception places after that, the necessary places are distributed among all municipalities via the provinces. The more inhabitants a municipality has, the more asylum seekers it has to accommodate.
But because of this system, municipalities that have already voluntarily offered places in the first round will have additional places to choose from in the second round. “This does not ensure a fair distribution,” warned Rutger Groot Wassink of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG).
The municipalities and provinces are not necessarily against the distribution of bonuses, Jetta Klijnsma, King’s Commissioner in Drenthe, explained. “But those two installments make the law unworkable,” she stressed.
Complex law is the result of a political compromise
It was not the first time that the parties expressed their concerns. The municipalities and provinces have themselves submitted an alternative plan. They also responded to the legal texts last autumn. “Nothing was subsequently done with it. Very unfortunate,” said Groot Wassink.
The government has also done nothing with the Council of State’s criticism of the bill. The advisory body noted the same problematic elements as the implementers and local authorities some time ago. “Hey, we haven’t seen it that crazy yet,” IPO director De Reus thought at the time. However, in the end they did not reach an agreement with the ministry about simplifying the law. “We all regret that, because we have done our very best for that.”
State Secretary Van der Burg recently admitted that the law has not been amended, because only in this form will it have enough political support in the House of Representatives. The proposal is the result of a hard-fought deal between the VVD, D66, the CDA and ChristenUnie. The parties spent weeks last year discussing the distribution law, which was part of a package of asylum measures. The VVD was against it for a long time, but eventually agreed.
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Without a law we are even further away from home
Would it be better not to introduce a dispersion law? “No. It will be even worse if there is no law at all. Then we are even further away from home,” said Leiden mayor Henri Lenferink. The other speakers agreed. “We assume that common sense will prevail and that you as a House will listen to our input as executive parties,” said Groot Wassink.
It is now up to the House of Representatives to plan the continuation of the legislative process. If the proposal has been adopted, State Secretary Van der Burg must also defend it in the Senate. Whether the coalition will find sufficient support among the opposition there is still uncertain.