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14 May 2015
Immigration and the European Union:
The Case of the Netherlands
By James M. Stricker
I. Introduction of Hypotheses
Immigration has become a highly politicized and controversial issue in many Western
European countries. Population booms, violent conflict, and natural disasters in less-developed
world regions (particularly in MENA, Africa, and Southwest Asia) have driven millions to
migrate legally and illegally into the EU in numbers that were unprecedented prior to the later
decades of the 20th century. In addition to immigration from outside of the EU, the
implementation and expansion of the Schengen Area has facilitated migration within the EU,
particularly into Western European countries and out of Eastern Europe and former colonies.
The Netherlands in particular has felt the effects of this immigration influx. Since the
country’s implementation of the Schengen Agreement in 1995, the number of immigrants living
there has risen to the point that one in five of its residents is either an immigrant or has at least
one parent who is an immigrant.1 In some major Dutch municipalities (e.g. Amsterdam, The
Hague, and Rotterdam) about half of all residents fit this description.2 Anti-immigrant sentiment
has risen considerably within the country, and Dutch anti-immigrant groups have come to enjoy
a particularly high level of political success. All of these factors make it timely and relevant to
make the Netherlands the focus of immigration policy research. Accordingly, this paper will
explore the key drivers of immigration policy in EU member states by examining the
development of immigration policy in the Netherlands since it first implemented the Schengen
1 Piet H. Pellenbarg and PaulJ.M. Van Steen, “TheForeign BornPopulationof theNetherlands,” Tijdschrift voorEconomische en Sociale Geografie
106, no.1(2015): 132.
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Agreement in 1995. It will also examine the broader context of EU-wide immigration initiatives
and policies in order to gauge the importance of both domestic and international factors in
determining Dutch immigration policy.
In the context of this paper, the term “immigration” refers to several different types of
migrants: (1) legal immigrants who have entered the country or attained authorized residency by
way of a legal application process; (2) refugees who are fleeing violent conflict, natural disasters,
or other phenomena that pose a danger to them in their home countries; (3) asylum-seekers who
are fleeing political persecution and have applied for long-term refuge in the receiving country;
and (4) illegal immigrants who have not entered the country by way of an officially authorized or
sanctioned process. It is also important to note that, in the Netherlands, much of the discussion
concerning immigration revolves around second-generation immigrants as well, as they are often
still considered foreign to Dutch society. In the Dutch context, the term “allochthones” is often
used to refer to both first and second-generation immigrants in the Netherlands, and it should be
interpreted as having this meaning throughout the paper, unless otherwise specified.3 Policies or
initiatives within the Netherlands and the EU that pertain to migrants in any of these categories
will be addressed in this research.
In order to explain the immigration policies of the Netherlands, this study will address
two hypotheses. The first of these, the research hypothesis, pertains to the international-system
level of analysis. It addresses the possibility that a variety of international factors have
incentivized the Netherlands to cooperate with EU policies and initiatives on immigration at both
the intergovernmental and supranational levels. The independent variables of this research
hypothesis are international factors, which could include a collective EU concern about the rising
3 Pellenbarg and Van Steen, 132.
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number of refugees crossing its borders, a desire among EU member states to coordinate
immigration and border control policy, concerns about increased westward migration from
Eastern Europe, counterterrorism concerns, and a desire to collectively combat racism and
intolerance. The dependent variables of this hypothesis are the Netherlands’ immigration
policies, which would theoretically be more cooperative with the EU and its member states under
The second of these, an alternative hypothesis, pertains to the national/domestic level of
analysis. It addresses the possibility that the Netherlands has taken a unilateral approach to
immigration policy that is primarily shaped and determined by domestic factors, and has shown
unwillingness or reluctance to join, cooperate with, or implement supranational or
intergovernmental agreements with the EU and its member states. The independent variables of
this hypothesis are domestic factors within the Netherlands, which may include its desirability as
an immigrant destination, domestic political pressures to limit immigration, immigrants’ levels
of social integration and economic opportunity, and the role or religious organizations, NGOs,
anti-immigrant groups, and political parties. The dependent variables of the alternative
hypothesis are, once again, its immigration policies, which would be less cooperative with the
EU and its member states under these conditions.
On the international level analysis, leaders of certain EU institutions will likely become
relevant. These leaders may include (but are not limited to) the President of the European
Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and his predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso; the High
Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and
her predecessor, Catherine Ashton; the Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights,
Johannes Hahn, and his predecessor, Viviane Reding; the Commissioner for Home Affairs,
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Dimitris Avramopoulos, and his predecessor Cecilia Malmstrom; and the European Council
President, Donald Tusk, and his many predecessors, including Herman Van Rompuy. All of
these leaders have a significant role to play in issues concerning immigration throughout the EU.
On the domestic level of analysis in the Netherlands, important policymakers, politicians,
or other influential figures are likely to have a significant role in shaping its national immigration
policy. The current prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, and his predecessors Wim
Kok and Jan Peter Balkenende have all had key roles in the country’s political direction since
1995. In addition, current and former immigration ministers – including Klaas Dijkhoff, Gerd
Leers, Hilbrand Nawjin, and Rita Verdonk – are worth noting. Finally, it is important to note
prominent anti-immigration or anti-Muslim figures in the Netherlands such as Geert Wilders,
Peter Balkenende, Pim Fortuyn, and Hirsi Ali.
If the research hypothesis is true, then it is likely that we will find pleas from EU leaders
for coordinated immigration, asylum, and counterterrorism policy at the intergovernmental and
supranational levels. These calls for action may come from the European Parliament, the
Council of the European Union, the European Council, or in the form of proposals from the
European Commission. They may pertain to either the immigration of people from outside of
the EU, the migration of people within the EU, or the rights of diaspora or traveler communities
(such as the Roma). In addition, we would expect to see the Netherlands cooperating in, or even
leading, initiatives to collectively address these issues. Finally, we would see the government of
the Netherlands speaking out against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, and supporting
initiatives to reduce their prevalence in Europe (via EU institutions or the Council of Europe).
If the alternative hypothesis is true, then we would likely find that the Netherlands has
experienced an influx of immigrants (from either outside or inside the EU) that has made a
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significant impact on the country’s demographics. We would also find that immigration has
become a divisive or politically-charged issue in Dutch domestic politics. This would be
accompanied by calls from political leaders and parties, civil society organizations (including
NGOs and religious organizations), and Dutch citizens for reductions in the number of
immigrants coming into the country from either inside or outside of the EU. These voices may
even directly oppose EU policies on immigration, and call for them to change. Political actors
and policymakers who heed these voices would be more likely to pursue unilateral approaches to
immigration control. We would also find that immigrants coming into the country lack
economic opportunity and/or social integration into Dutch society. We would also find that the
Netherlands is at a great risk of terrorist activity, or has experienced terrorist attacks in recent
years. This risk may be real or merely perceived by the Dutch public. Finally, we would find
that the government, political leaders, and the public in the Netherlands tend to favor national
approaches to immigration issues, rather than close cooperation with the EU and other Member
States. A prevalence of these factors and phenomena would indicate that the Netherlands is
more inclined to pursue national or unilateral approaches to immigration policy, and is less
willing to cooperate or coordinate on EU-wide immigration initiatives.
II. Literature Review and Sources
On the international level of analysis, there is extensive writing on the effects of
immigration on the EU as a whole. Raymer and Willekens (2008); Pennix, Berger, and Kraal
(2006); Boswell and Geddes (2011); Howson and Sallah (2009); and Koslowski (2012) all have
written extensive works that include either a holistic view of immigration to the EU or case
studies of individual member states. Other authors have written about attempts at either
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coordinating EU immigration law intergovernmentally or through supranational imposition of
restrictions. Emmer (2004); Faist and Ette (2007); and Dean (2013) have written generally on
the problems and prospects of establishing an effective EU-wide immigration policy. Pender
(2008) and Schmit (2008) have written specifically on the Hague Programme, a Netherlands-led
initiative that aimed to further develop the EU's common immigration policies. Some authors
take a strong stance on the importance of international factors in the domestic policies of EU
member states; Christian Joppke (2007) argues that although progress has been slow, EU
member state policies on immigration are tending to converge over time, and thus the
convergence process is succeeding. Others, such as Martin Schain (2009), take an opposing
stance, asserting that internationally-imposed constraints are not as important as domestic
factors, such as what he refers to as "neo-nationalism."
There is also a great deal of literature dealing with domestic factors in the Netherlands
that pertain to immigration. Authors such as Huijnk, Verkuyten, and Coenders (2012);
Amersfoor and Doomernik (2005); Vervoort and Dagevos (2011); and Pellenbarg (2015) discuss
the integration of immigrant communities into Dutch society, and the challenges of doing so.
Dinas and Van Spanje (2011), Bos and Van Der Brug (2010), Van Heerden (2014), Van Spanje
(2010 & 2011), Van Der Valk (2003), and Rubin (2010) all examine domestic politics in the
Netherlands and the role that right-wing and anti-immigrant parties and their leaders play in the
formation of the Dutch domestic immigration policy. Taking a different approach, Vliegenthardt
(2007) examines the role that the press and the media played in fostering anti-immigrant
sentiment in the Netherlands after the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001.
The hypotheses that I will be testing in this paper are not novel ideas – the debate over
the relative importance of international and domestic factors with regards to state behavior is not
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confined to the study of the European Union, nor to the study of immigration policy. However,
this research will be original in that it is strictly centered on a hypothesis-testing format.
My ability to use primary sources for this paper is limited by the fact that I have no
knowledge of the Dutch language. This precludes my ability to delve into many Dutch primary
sources. However, I will use news syndicates that provide relatively close coverage of events in
the Netherlands or Europe, such as Euractiv.com, the BBC, Reuters, DutchNews.nl, and other
reliable organizations that I will cite and include as needed.
III. Testing the Research Hypothesis
As mentioned before, the research hypothesis focuses on the international level of
analysis, and states that international factors (the independent variable) have induced the
Netherlands to comply with EU efforts at implementing common immigration policies
(dependent variable) at the supranational and intergovernmental levels. We will now examine
the various expectations of each hypothesis.
Expectation 1a: EU leaders have called for efforts to deal with refugees and asylum seekers
coming from outside the EU, and for the observance of EU laws pertaining to migration across
member-state boundaries within the EU.
The evidence supporting this expectation is extremely strong. Jean-Claude Juncker, the current
president of the European Commission, lists the implementation of the Common European
Asylum System (CEAS) among his top policy priorities on his website.4 He also notes the
importance of securing Europe’s borders, and expresses his hope to reinforce Frontex, the EU’s
4 Jean-Claude Juncker, “My Priorities,” Jean-ClaudeJunckerand theEPP, accessed 12 May, 2015, http://juncker.epp.eu/my-priorities.
14 May 2015
border agency.5 His predecessor until 2014, Jose Manuel Barroso, supported initiatives for
increasing the European Court of Justice’s powers with regards to asylum and immigration
issues.6 Before leaving office in 2014, he also chided David Cameron, the Prime Minister of
Britain, for proposing a cap on migration to the UK from other EU member states.7 The EU
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini,
has also pushed for more cooperation on migration and asylum issues. On 10 February 2015, she
issued a strong statement about the need for stronger cooperation and collective action on
migration and asylum issues, referencing recent tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea that involved
the deaths of migrants making the crossing in unsuitable, crowded boats.8 Her predecessor until
2014, Catherine Ashton, also issued statements calling for an EU-wide migration policy, and has
chastised members of the Schengen Area for trying to introduce migration quotas for EU
citizens.9 Dimitris Avramopoulos, the current Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and
Citizenship, has called for greater member-state cooperation on asylum policy and the need for
compliance with EU law.10 His predecessor, Cecilia Malmstrom, also lent her support for the
Common European Asylum System.11 The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has
emphasized the need for cooperation on securing the EU’s borders and helping to coordinate
resettlement of refugees as a way of easing the burden on member states that have been
5 Juncker, “My Priorities…”
6 "Barroso wants Member States to giveup vetoes on justiceand security," Euractiv.com,26 June, 2006, accessed 11 May, 2015,
7 Nicholas Watt, "Barroso warns Cameron that arbitrary migrationcap would breach EU law," Guardian, 19October,2014,
8 European ExternalAction Service, "Statement bytheHigh Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherinionaddressing thechallenges of
migration," European ExternalActionService, 10February, 2015,http://eeas.europa.eu/statements-eeas/2015/150210_03_en.htm.
9 Cecilia Malmstrom, "TheEU needs morelabour migration," Euractiv.com, September 8, 2011, accessed May 10,2015;
http://www.euractiv.com/innovation-enterprise/eu-needs-labour-migration-analysis-507489; "Swiss re-imposeimmigration limits on someEU
states," BBC, 18 April, 2012, accessed 10 May,2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17764766.
10 "Avramopoulos proposes new strategies to solverefugeecrisis," Euractiv.com, 3 December, 2014, accessed 10 May, 2015,
11 European Commission, A CommonEuropean AsylumSystem,2014,accessed 10May, 2015, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-
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experiencing heavy influxes.12 His predecessor until 2014, Herman Van Rompuy, also called for
EU cooperation in reducing illegal immigration into the EU via the Mediterranean Sea, and the
need for implementation of Eurosur, the EU border surveillance system.13 In sum, all of this
evidence supports the expectation, and demonstrates a general recognition among EU leaders on
the need for greater cooperation of some kind at the supranational or intergovernmental levels.
Expectation 1b: members of the European Parliament have called for common EU policies on
refugees and asylum, as well as policies for addressing Europe’s Roma.
The European Parliament is currently headed by a majority grand coalition of the center-right
European People’s Party (EPP), the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
(S&D) and the liberal centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).14 Since
forming the government in June 2014, these parties have been particularly supportive of joint EU
action on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, issuing a call in April 2015 for EU efforts to
prevent further loss of life and to expand Frontex operations further out to sea, and for the
implementation of a “binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries.”15
The previous government, between the years 2009 and 2014, passed laws encouraging
coordination in multiple areas, including one to improve the rights and working conditions for
12 European Councilof theEuropean Union,“Remarks by President Donald Tusk following thespecialEuropean Councilmeeting on migratory
pressures in theMediterranean,” TheEuropean Union, 23 April, 2015,accessed 10 May,2015, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-
13European Council, “Remarks byPresident Herman VanRompuyfollowing theEuropean Council,” TheEuropean Union, 25 October 2013,
Accessed 10 May 2015,http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2013/10/pdf/remarks-by-president-herman-van-rompuy-
14 Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, “EPP, S&D,and ALDEto forma stablemajority in theEP for thenextEuropean Commission,”
ALDE, 26 June, 2014,accessed 10May, 2015,http://www.alde.eu/nc/press/press-and-release-news/press-release/article/epp-sd-and-alde-to-
15 European Parliament, “Migration: Parliamentcalls for urgent measures to savelives,” European Parliament,29 April, 2015,accessed 10May,
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seasonal migrants coming from outside of the EU.16 That government also criticized Switzerland
for its initiative to impose migration quotas on citizens of certain EU countries.17
Groups within the European Parliament that we would expect to show the most resistance
to further development of CEAS are those who lean to the political right. However, when
looking at the actual platforms of certain groups, some of them show a limited degree of support
for cooperation on some aspects of CEAS. The European People’s Party (EPP) platform
includes support for “conformity and solidarity between member states” in the areas of
“controlled, targeted immigration, for the prevention of illegal immigration, for effective border
control, for the enforcement of readmission agreements, and for integrating legal migrants into
broader society.18 The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) political guidelines
document also emphasizes the importance of freedom of movement for workers, the need for
coordination of border control efforts, and the need for greater coordination on asylum laws for
the victims of persecution.19 However, they also reject the idea of an EU-wide quota system on
refugees, emphasizing the right of each member state to determine the amount of refugees that
they are able to absorb.20 The far-right, including the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy
(EFDD) group, shows the most resistance to the idea of common asylum policy, showing on the
front page of their website on 12 May 2015 a press release entitled “A centralized asylum system
would be the death knell of national sovereignty.”21
16 European Parliament, “Morerights and better working conditions for non-EU seasonalworkers,”EP, 5 February,2014, accessed 10 May, 2015,
seasonal-workers.; European Parliament, “About Parliament:previous elections,” EP,accessed 10May, 2015,
17 European Parliament, “Morerights…”
18 EPP Statutory Congress, Party Platform, 17-18October,2012,accessed 10May, 2015,
19 European Conservatives and Reformists Group, PoliticalGuidelines of the EuropeanConservatives and Reformists Group,accessed 10May,
20 ECR, PoliticalGuidelines…
21 PaulNuttall, “A centralised asylum system would bethedeath knellof nationalsovereignty,” EFDDNewsroom, 24 April2015, accessed 10 May,
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Compared to the general proportions of the rest of the European Parliament, the
Netherlands have contributed what is perhaps a proportionally higher number of anti-
immigration MEPs as part of their contribution of 26 members, 18 of which come from parties
with uncooperative inclinations on immigration or have made statements against cooperation and
policy harmonization efforts.22 Members of their center-right party, the People’s Party for
Freedom and Democracy (VVD) (part of the liberal-centrist EP group, ALDE) take an
uncooperative stance on some aspects of immigration and asylum. For instance, a statement on
30 April from Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, representing the VVD, expresses the party’s
opposition to any policy of offering humanitarian visas to migrants picked up in the
Mediterranean Sea, so as not to create a “pull” factor that would attract more migrants.23 Van
Baalen also expressed opposition to the imposition of refugee quotas from Brussels.24 The Party
for Freedom (PVV), which is not affiliated with any EP group, and from which there are
currently four MEPs, falls even further to the right on the political spectrum. After the early-
2015 high profile incidents involving the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, PVV
MEPs, including Vicky Maeijer, voiced opposition to increasing Mediterranean rescue efforts,
implying that this would only encourage more migrants to come by making the journey across
the sea less dangerous (i.e. creating a ‘pull’ factor).25
Though it is important to note the views of some of these MEPs who are disinclined to
support the further development of CEAS policies, the institution seems to have facilitated
22 European Parliament, [Netherlands MEPs searchresults], accessed 10May 2015,
23 Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, “Report of theextraordinaryEuropean Councilmeeting (23April2015) –Thelatest tragedies in the
Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies,” European Parliament, 30 April2015, accessed 10 May 2015,
25 Vicky Maeijer, “Report of theextraordinary European Councilmeeting (23 April2015) –Thelatest tragedies in theMediterranean and EU
migration and asylum policies,” European Parliament, 30 April2015, accessed 10 May 2015,
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efforts towards common immigration and asylum law overall. Thus, I conclude that the evidence
generally supports the expectation, while still noting the dissenting voices coming from some
Expectation 1c: government officials in the Netherlands have called for common EU policies on
refugees and asylum, as well as for policies addressing Europe’s Roma.
On one hand, there has been some cooperation in this regard, particularly earlier in the 2000s. In
2003, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende signed the EU Family Reunification Directive,
which proposed common rules for family reunification immigration procedures in EU states,
essentially limiting the level of restrictiveness that the Netherlands could include in its family
reunification immigration policies.26 Furthermore, the Netherlands has been at the forefront of
some EU-wide initiatives on pursuing the development of CEAS. In 2004, Balkenende, in his
capacity in the Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union, launched the Hague
Programme, intended as a follow-up for the Tampere Programme.27 The Hague Programme
identified priority areas for the creation of CEAS policy, and proposed some new ideas for
border control cooperation (i.e. Frontex and Eurosur) and common immigration policy (i.e. the
blue-card system and the Return Directive.)28 More recently, the Dutch government document
listing its priorities for the Stockholm Programme, launched in 2009 as a follow-up to the Hague
Programme, takes a tone that expresses general interest in further collaboration at the EU level.
Of particular note is the Dutch interest in a “European resettlement policy” as a way to share
26 Bonjour, Saskia, and Maarten Vink. "When EuropeanizationBackfires: theNormalization of European MigrationPolitics." ActaPolitica 48, no. 4
(October 2013), 399.
27 Michael J. Sodaro, The EU Handbook:MemberStates, Institutions,Policies, and ForeignRelations of the EuropeanUnion, (Washington, Michael
Sodaro: 2015), 153.
28 Sodaro, 153.
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responsibility for hosting refugees and their interest in eventually implementing a “European
quota” on immigration.29 Finally, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders spoke
recently on the urgent need to prevent further refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, and did
not rule out further Dutch cooperation with the EU in doing so.30
On the other hand, many government officials in the Netherlands have also expressed a
strong interest in maintaining sovereignty over their own independent migration policies. In
2010, Prime Minister Marke Rutte expressed interest in seeking an exemption to EU migration
law, saying “… if we can obtain an exception, we shall do so.”31 The Netherlands also helped to
block Bulgaria and Romania’s entry into the Schengen Area in 2011.32 This seems to have been
motivated by concerns about migration increases from those two countries – which is shown by
Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher’s recent comments about raising an “orange alert” on
the number of Eastern European migrants in the Netherlands.33
The Netherlands has also had some legal clashes with the European Parliament regarding
compliance with EU migration laws. In 2010, the Netherlands was convicted of non-compliance
with the Family Reunification Directive --- the same directive was signed by Balkenende in 2003
without any serious indications of opposition or trepidation.34
Unfortunately, English-language information about Dutch policy and government official
statements about the Roma was not readily available. Although I am sure they exist, the issue of
29 Government of theNetherlands,Dutchpriorities for the Stockholm Programme,2009?, accessed 10May, 2015,
30 “Dutch callfor speedy solution toboatrefugeecrisis,” DutchNews.nl, 20 April, 2015,accessed 10 May 2015,
31 Bonjour and Vink, 399.
32 Sodaro, 151.
33 “Orangealert over freemovement within theEU remains: Dutchminister,” DutchNews.nl, 9 May 2014, accessed 10 May 2015,
34 Bonjour and Vink, 404.
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Roma in the Netherlands may simply be crowded out by other migration priorities at the
In sum, the evidence regarding this research expectation is generally mixed. There will
be more elaboration on Dutch collaboration with EU asylum law, or lack thereof, in the
alternative hypothesis section of this paper.
Expectation 1d: leaders of the Netherlands have approved common EU policies on terrorism in
the EU and the Middle East.
Indeed the Netherlands has shown a high level of participation in global counterterrorism
operations. The Netherlands has been contributing ships to Operation Atalanta, the EU Naval
Force’s anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, since 2009.35 In late 2014, Dutch Minister
of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders approved an extension of Dutch involvement in the mission
until the end of 2015.36 In addition, the Netherlands has been a contributor to a number of non-
EU operations. For example, the Dutch military has contributed to Operation Ocean Shield –
NATO’s parallel anti-piracy operation – since 2010.37 The Netherlands also contributed to the
NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan, with its total troop presence peaking at around 1,600,
before formally ending in 2010.38 More recently, the Netherlands has also participated in US-led
35Government of theNetherlands, “Netherlands to extend its contribution toEU counter-piracy mission,” Governmentof theNetherlands, 14
November 2014, accessed 10 May 2015, http://www.government.nl/news/2014/11/17/netherlands-to-extend-its-contribution-to-eu-counter-
37 Netherlands Ministry of Defence, “Somalia: Counterpiracy,” Governmentof theNetherlands, accessed 10May, 2015,
38 Government of theNetherlands,“Relations theNetherlands –Afghanistan,”accessed 10May 2015,
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military action against the Islamic State, and has carried out airstrikes in tandem with coalition
With regards to UN operations, the Netherlands has contributed personnel and military
equipment to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusuma). Also,
the government of the Netherlands recently agreed to extend its contribution of thirty military
and police officers to the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan until early 2016.40
In terms of policy coordination with the EU, the National Coordinator for Security and
Counterterrorism of the Netherlands recently released a report in which it clearly expressed
support for greater international cooperation “both bilaterally and through multilateral forums.”41
The same report also described the Netherlands as “a leader when it comes to sharing
information with Europol and Interpol,” and expresses the need to continue this information
sharing after the terrorist attacks in Paris in early 2015.42 All of this evidence generally supports
this expectation, and shows that the Netherlands has approved of cooperation with regards to EU
security and counterterrorism.
39 Government of theNetherlands,“Netherlands tomakemilitary contribution to fight against ISIS,”Government of theNetherlands, 24
September 2014, accessed 11May 2015, http://www.government.nl/news/2014/09/25/netherlands-to-make-military-contribution-to-fight-
40 Netherlands Ministry of Defence, “TheNetherlands extends participation in UN mission in SouthSudan,”Government of theNetherlands, 30
January 2015, accessed 10 May 2015, http://www.defensie.nl/english/latest/news/2015/01/30/the-netherlands-extends-participation-in-un-
41 Netherlands Minister of Security and Justice, Summary DTN38, 14April2015, accessed 10 May 2015,https://english.nctv.nl/Images/policy-
14 May 2015
Expectation 1e: the Netherlands has joined with the EU and its member-states in supporting
initiatives and statements by the European Commission and the Council of Europe against
discrimination, racism, and intolerance.
An excellent example of the Netherlands’ cooperation (or lack thereof) with EU human rights
norms is the Council of Europe’s European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
Report on the Netherlands, most recently published in 2013. With regards to improvements, the
ECRI notes that the Netherlands has recently set up anti-discrimination services and specialized
anti-discrimination prosecutors and police officers, online anonymous forms for reporting hate
crimes and other discriminatory practices and abolished the “Reference Index Antilleans,” a
database for compiling data on “problematic” Antillean youths (a practice that the EoC considers
discriminatory.)43 However, the ECRI also notes some serious problem areas, including the
widespread phenomenon of discriminatory housing practices, the non-illegality of discriminating
based on nationality or language criteria, and the widespread portrayal of Eastern Europeans and
Muslims in the Netherlands as “a threat to Dutch society.44 This last point is clearly
demonstrated by an incident in 2012, when anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders, and his
party, the Party for Freedom (PVV) set up a website for issuing complaints about Eastern
Europeans living in the Netherlands.45 Despite condemnation from a majority vote by the
European Parliament describing the website as “discriminatory and malicious,” the PVV refused
to close it, and, perhaps more notably, Prime Minister Mark Rutte refused to condemn the
website or openly criticize Wilders.46
43 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI Reportonthe Netherlands (fourthmonitoring cycle), (Straubourg: Councilof
45 “Rutteignores EU parliament motionon PVV anti-Polewebsite,” DutchNews.nl, 15March,2012, accessed 11 May, 2015,
46 “Rutteignores EU parliament motion…”DutchNews.nl.
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More recently, the Council of Europe has also criticized the Netherlands for its refusal to
provide for migrants from non-EU states who have tried and failed to apply for asylum in the
Netherlands (and thus are residing there illegally.)47 If they refuse to comply with their
deportation, they are simply removed from refugee care centers and given no means to support
themselves.48 The Council of Europe issued a strong condemnation of this practice, but there has
been some disagreement over a proper response within the current Dutch government: the
center-left Labor Party (PvdA) also seeks to end this practice, but the center-right VVD does
In general, the evidence that I have found contradicts the expectation, and shows that,
although the Netherlands has taken some steps to combat racism and intolerance at home, its
most prominent political leaders are – in general – disinclined to speak out against discriminatory
practices in Europe or their in their own country.
Expectation 1f: the Netherlands has approved of EU efforts to address the problems of the Roma.
Indeed there has been considerable EU focus on the Roma in recent years. One of the most
notable is the 2010 Communication (from the European Commission) on the economic and
social integration of the Roma in Europe, which suggested ways to improve the effectiveness of
long-term socio-economic integration of the Roma in to European society.50 However, looking
at the document itself, it appears that the Netherlands has only sporadically complied with the
47 “Councilof Europetells theNetherlands to takecareof failed asylum seekers,” DutchNews.nl, 10November,2014, accessed 11May 2015,
48 “Dutch mustcontinuehelping undocumented refugees: Councilof Europe,” DutchNews.nl, 15April, 2015, accessed 11 May, 2015,
50 Europa.eu, “Socialand economic integration of Roma,”European Union, accessed 11 May, 2015,
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recommendations therein.51 It may also be relevant to note that the fact that the Netherlands
does not actually systematically collect data on its Roma.52 Furthermore, I was not able to find
any high-profile statements by Dutch government officials on the situation of Roma within the
country, at least among English language sites. Unfortunately, this evidence is inconclusive for
the purposes of this hypothesis-testing study, but it may demonstrate that the government of the
Netherlands has not prioritized the Roma issue for the time being.
To conclude the testing of the research hypothesis, we have found that (1a) there have
been calls from leaders throughout the EU for collaboration on common immigration and asylum
policy, (1b) that the prevailing opinion in the European Parliament also supports collaboration in
this policy area (though many Dutch MEPs do not share this sentiment), (1d) leaders of the
Netherlands have approved of common EU policies on terrorism and security, and have
participated in many global counterterrorism and stability operations. However, we found
evidence contradicting the expectation that (1e) the government of the Netherlands would be
outspoken against racism, discrimination, and intolerance. Research produced mixed evidence
for the expectation that (1c) government officials in the Netherlands would voice concerns
similar those of EU leaders and other member states. Research on (1f) the Dutch government
officials’ statements about the Roma was inconclusive. With considerable amounts of evidence
both supporting and contradicting the research hypothesis, I conclude that the results are mixed
51 European Commission, NationalRomaIntegrationStrategies: a first step in the implementation of the EU Framework, COM(2012) 226 final, 21
52 European Agency for FundamentalRights, The Situationof Roma–Netherlands, 2012, accessed 11 May 2015,
14 May 2015
IV. Testing the Alternative Hypothesis
As mentioned in the introduction to this paper, the alternative hypothesis to be tested here
is that national or domestic factors in the Netherlands have resulted in a preference for national
solutions to immigration problems, and a reluctance to join in common EU policies or
intergovernmental agreements with other member states.
Expectation 2a: the Netherlands has experienced an influx of immigrants (from either outside or
inside the EU) that has made a significant impact on the country’s demographics.
Pellenbarg and Van Steen have produced a detailed and timely account of the foreign-born
population of the Netherlands. According to their work, inhabitants of the Netherlands who were
born outside of the country number around 1.9 million people, out of a total population of 16.8
million, making them about 11.5% of the population, compared to an EU average of 10%.53
Splitting this number into two categories, we find that about 8.6% of its population was born
outside of the EU itself, and 2.9% were born in other EU countries.54 With these numbers, the
Netherlands do not even rank among the top five EU countries in terms of foreign born persons
per capita.55 However, the way that the discussion about immigration and integration is framed
within the Netherlands is quite different than in many other countries – they often include both
first AND second-generation immigrants – a category labeled “allochthones” – in their
discussion of “immigrants,” although this practice is somewhat frowned upon in some other
member states.56 However, when we use this classification, the number of “allochthones” in the
53 Pellenbarg and Van Steen, 132.
56 Dirk Jacobs and Andrea Rea, "'Allochthones'in theNetherlands and Belgium," InternationalMigration 50, no.6 (December 2012), 44.
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Netherlands climbs to about 3.5 million, comprising about 21% of the Netherlands’ population
of 16.8 million.57
Pellenbarg and Van Steen also give a very detailed description of how these
allochthonous communities have grown over time. There has been a marked increase in their
size in the Netherlands at least since the beginning of the 1990s, at which time the total
allochthonous population measured around 2 million, with about 1.25 million western
allochthones and about .75 million non-Western allochthones.58 Early in the decade, growth
rates among the non-Western allochthonous population accelerated considerably.59 By the year
2000, the total number of allochthones had risen to about 2.75 million, split approximately
evenly between western and non-western allochthones.60 In addition, the growth rate of the
Western allochthonous population also accelerated the early 2000s. 61 From here, both
communities have steadily increased in size, with the non-Western community growing
considerably faster than the western community, until arriving at today’s numbers of 3.5 million
people, with about 1.6 million Western allochthones and just under 2.5 million non-western
A great many of these non-Western allochthones come from the Middle East and North
Africa; both Turks and Moroccans number about 350-400,000 each.63 Though not from the
MENA region, Surinamese also number about 350-400,000.64 It is also important to note that
about 6% of people living in the Netherlands are Muslims, many of whom are allochthones from
57 Pellenbarg and Van Steen, 132.
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the Middle East.65 On the other hand, non-Western allochthones often come from eastern-
European countries. Currently, over 100,000 Poles live in the Netherlands, as well as Bulgarian
and Romanian communities totaling around 30,000 people. 66 In regards to the Roma, the
precise number living in the Netherlands is not exactly known, with estimates generally ranging
between 8,000 and 22,500, with one estimate by the EU that the number is as high as 40,000.67
Western allochthones (e.g. eastern Europeans) generally have a different relationship with Dutch
society than non-Western allochthones (e.g. Muslims or Arabs) but I will elaborate on this in a
It is also pertinent to note that the government of the Netherlands has estimated that it
spends between €6 billion and €7.5 billion euros on processing and financially supporting
immigrants and asylum seekers.68
Overall, the evidence supports this expectation of the alternative hypothesis, particularly
when you take into account the aggregation of first- and second-generation immigrants into a
single category in Dutch statistics and public discourse on migration.
65 Daphna Elfersy, “Got Faith? TheIntegration of Muslims in theNetherlands,” Araucaria 16,no. 31 (2014), 175.
66 Statistics Netherlands, “ImmigrationRising,” Governmentof theNetherlands, 11August2014, accessed 11May 2015, http://www.cbs.nl/en-
GB/menu/themas/bevolking/publicaties/artikelen/archief/2014/2014-047-pb.htm ; Krishnadev Calamur,“Dutch MigrationFears Mirror
Sentiments Across Europe,” NationalPublic Radio,29August 2013,accessed 11May 2015,
67 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI Report… 48.; TheEuropean Union,The European UnionandRoma –Country
Factsheet: the Netherlands, 2012,accessed 12May 2015,
68 Barry Rubin, "TheNetherlands, theMiddleEast, and the2010Parliamentary Elections,” Middle East Review of InternationalAffairs 14, no. 3
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Expectation 2b: leaders of political parties and within the general public have called for limits
on the number of refugees and asylum seekers from outside the EU who may remain in the
In my research, I encountered an extremely large volume of evidence that supports this
expectation, which seems to have been an increasingly salient phenomenon over time. Anti-
immigration stances in Dutch politics began to appear more frequently in the Netherlands during
the 1990s, when non-Western allochthonous communities began to grow more rapidly.69 In the
late 1990s and early 2000s, several events acted as catalysts for this anti-immigrant sentiment,
most notably 9/11, the 2002 assassination of anti-immigration and anti-Islam campaigner Pim
Fortuyn (whose party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn, then went on to achieve a brief period of electoral
success), and the assassination of anti-Islam filmmaker and activist Theo Van Gogh by a Dutch
Moroccan “allochthone” in 200470. Shortly thereafter, a political entrepreneur named Geert
Wilders founded the right-wing, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV), which
won nine seats in the Dutch parliament (out of 150) in 2006 and twenty four in 2010.71
Anti-immigrant sentiment is no longer limited to the far right, or even the right, in Dutch
politics. Throughout the last two decades, anti-immigrant ideas have become more salient in the
platforms and proposals of mainstream political parties. General consensus among scholars
seems to be that this is due to what Van Heerden et al. refer to as an “accommodation” effect,
through which mainstream political parties will co-opt the stances of their rivals in order to win
back lost votes.72 There is a dispute within the scholarship about the extent to which this
phenomenon effects the stances of mainstream parties, and which parties engage in this
69 SjoerdjeVan Heerden, , et al., “TheImmigration and IntegrationDebatein theNetherlands: Discursiveand Programmatic Reactions totheRise
of Anti-Immigration Parties,” Journalof Ethnic and Migration Studies 40, no. 1 (2014), 119.
70 Rubin, “TheNetherlands…,” 67.
71 Van Heerden et al., “TheImmigration andIntegrationDebate…,”121.
72 Ibid., 122.
14 May 2015
“accommodation” in the Dutch case, but the general consensus seems to be that it has an effect
on virtually all mainstream political parties in the Netherlands on both the center-left and center-
This phenomenon is certainly demonstrated by the actions and statements of Dutch
politicians over time. Bonjour and Vink’s article includes an excellent litmus test for this: the
EU Family Reunification Directive, mentioned earlier in the research hypothesis section of this
paper. In 2003, before the PVV’s rise to prominence, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of
the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal, signed the Directive.74 Doing so did not create a
great deal of domestic controversy.75 However, virtually all Dutch governments since that time
(including both center-right and mixed governments) have pushed back against the Directive to
some degree. By 2009, Balkenende was promising to push for amendments to the Directive at
the EU level, so as to make it possible for the Netherlands to be more restrictive in terms of its
family reunification migration procedures, which already involved the passing of a Dutch
acculturation exam before even entering the country, and (for a time) required incoming family
members to have attained a job with wages at least 20% higher than the Netherlands’ minimum
wage (so as to reduce the burden on the welfare state.)76 Both of these phenomena have
repeatedly come under scrutiny from the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the
European Union, and the minimum wage aspect was actually struck down by the European Court
of Justice for being incompatible with EU law.77 However, the next government – a grand
coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte – actually succeeded in eliciting a
73 Kees Van Kersbergen and AndreKrouwel. "A Double-Edged Sword!TheDutch Centre-Rightand the'Foreigners Issue'. Journalof European
Public Policy 15,no.3 (April2008): 398-414.; Joost Van Spanje, "Contagious Parties: Anti-Immigration Parties and Their Impact onOther Parties'
Immigration Stances in Contemporary Western Europe." Party Politics 16, no.5 (2010): 563-586.
74 Saskia Bonjour andMaarten Vink,"When EuropeanizationBackfires: theNormalizationof EuropeanMigration Politics." ActaPolitica 48, no. 4
(October 2013), 399.
76 Bonjour and Vink, 399.
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promise from the European Commission to “present a proposal for the modification of the
Family Reunification Directive in 2012.”78 In addition, as mentioned in the previous section,
Rutte has expressed interest in exempting the Netherlands from some aspects of EU migration
and asylum law.79
In testing this expectation, we must be careful not to misconstrue the views of center-
right and far-right politicians as being representative of the society as a whole. However, even
some center-left politicians have recently called for limits to migrants coming to the Netherlands,
even from other EU member-states. As mentioned in the previous section, Lodewijk Asscher, a
member of the Dutch Labor party who is currently serving as both the deputy prime minister and
the minister of social affairs and employment, has raised alarms of an “orange alert” over the
high number of eastern European migrant workers arriving and staying in the Netherlands,
saying that the time has come to consider “the negative consequences of the free movement of
workers within the European Union.”80 Even MPs from the far-left Socialist party in the
Netherlands have called for help with a so-called “tsunami” of eastern-Europeans in some parts
of the country.81
When looking at public opinion polls from the Netherlands, it becomes clear that there
are concerns among the general public either directly or indirectly pertaining to immigration.
For instance, a 2013 survey conducted by the Netherlands’ Sociocultural Planning Office found
that 60 percent of those surveyed thought that there are “too many” eastern Europeans in the
Netherlands.82 In light of the large number of allochthonous Muslims in the Netherlands, the
78 Ibid, 403.
79 Bonjour and Vink, “When EuropeanizationBackfires…,” 404.
80 Calamur, “DutchMigration Fears…,”
81 “Deport jobless Eastern Europeans if they won’t go voluntarily: minister,“ DutchNews.nl, 15February, 2011,accessed 11 May 2015,
82 “Nearly 60% think thereare‘toomany’ eastern Europeans in theNetherlands,” DutchNews.nl, 30December, 2013,Accessed 11May 2015,
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Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2005 revealing that 76% of those surveyed in the
Netherlands were either “very” or “somewhat” worried about “Islamic Extremism” in their own
country.83 In addition, only 45% of those surveyed generally saw Muslims “favorably” while
51% saw them “unfavorably.”84
In sum, the evidence here supports this expectation. Most notably, it shows that the
preferences of Dutch political parties across the spectrum are not only shifting beyond what EU
laws will allow, but that the Netherlands is also working to change EU law in order to allow for
greater freedom for national solutions to its immigrant conundrum.
Expectation 2c: Immigrants, in general, lack economic opportunity in the Netherlands.
Research by the Netherlands’ Sociocultural Planning Office (SCP) shows unemployment rates
among ethnic minorities in the Netherlands are three times higher than those of the white Dutch,
and that one in seven adults and one in four children with a “non-Western” background live
below the poverty line.85 Another report by the SCP in 2014 showed that immigrants are one of
the groups of people most likely to experience poverty.86 In addition, another study has shown
that “allochthones” (including second-generation migrants) from non-Western countries are
more likely to receive welfare or unemployment benefits than those from Western countries,
though second-generation “allochthones” are generally better off and better integrated than their
83 Pew Ressearch Center. “Islamic Extremism: Common Concernfor Muslim and Western Publics,” Pew Research Center, 14July, 2005, accessed
11 May, 2015,http://www.pewglobal.org/2005/07/14/islamic-extremism-common-concern-for-muslim-and-western-publics/.
85 “Migrants morelikely to bejobless and living in poverty (update),” DutchNews.nl, 11 March,2014, accessed 12May, 2015,
86 “Almost 8% of Dutchpopulationlivebelow povertyline: new report,” DutchNews.nl, 18 December,2014, accessed 12 May, 2014,
87 Aslan Zorlu, “WelfareUseof Migrants in theNetherlands,” InternationalJournalof Manpower34,no.1 (2013), 83&93.
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Estimates on the number of illegal migrants in the country are difficult to find, but an
older estimate suggests that there were over 120,000 in 2006.88 Many of them are extremely
poor, and the government of the Netherlands has generally refused to provide for them, despite
complaints from the UN and from the Council of Europe, which was described in the research
It is also pertinent to note that non-Western immigrants generally have lower rates of
access to higher education than native Dutch. In 2008, an OECD survey revealed that 41% of
both native Dutch and Western immigrants had attained either university education or
professional higher education, while only 29% of non-Western immigrants had achieved the
same.90 Furthermore, there is considerable variation among higher education attainment rates
among non-Western immigrants; rates are lowest among Turks (16%) and Moroccans (17%),
while they tend to be higher among Surinamese (28%) and Antilleans (32%).
Overall, this evidence supports this expectation for the alternative hypothesis, showing
that migrants are generally of lower economic standing than native Dutch.
Expectation 2d: In general, immigrants are not well integrated into society.
Residential segregation is a relatively strong phenomenon in the Netherlands, where many
allochthones live in de-facto segregated communities. Since there is no formal segregation
policy in the Netherlands, there is not a set definition of “de facto” segregated. However,
Musterd and Osterdorf refer to them as “ethnic concentrations” and define them as areas where
88 United Nations University, “Immigrationand SocialProtectionin theNetherlands,”TheUnited Nations, 8 August 2011, accessed 12 May,2015,
89 “Dutch reject UN callto feed, shelter homeless migrants,” YahooNews, 16December, 2014,accessed 12May, 2015,
90 Claire Shewbridgeet al., OECD Reviews of Education: Netherlands, February2010, accessed 12 May 2015,
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the concentration of members of a particular allochthonous group is at least four standard
deviations higher than the city-wide average concentration level for that group.91 Their study
revealed that, in Amsterdam, more than 39% of Turks, 45% of Moroccans, 29.5% of
Surinamese, and 24.6% of Antilleans live in these “concentrations.”92 It is also pertinent to note
that Amsterdam (surveyed here) The Hague, and Rotterdam are all cities where allochthones
comprise approximately half of the population.93 With this in mind, we might expect to find
similar levels of concentration in these other cities. Furthermore, while this study mainly
focused on non-western allochthones, the ECRI notes that western allochthones from Poland and
other eastern-European countries tend to live in segregated communities, which are often
characterized by “a ghetto-like environment” and “poor sanitary conditions.”94
Discrimination towards allochthones in the Netherlands is also a considerable problem.
Discrimination towards Western allochthones seems most often to be economically motivated,
while discrimination towards non-Western allochthones can be economically or culturally
motivated – particularly towards those with origins in MENA. With regards to eastern
Europeans, discriminatory employment practices are common, and there have been reports of
vandalism and destruction of vehicles with Polish tags.95 Many Bulgarians, as well as Roma,
have reported similar experiences.96
Discrimination towards Muslims in the Netherlands has taken on an even more cultural
and xenophobic tone, and may have been fomented by the work of anti-Islam activists such as
91 Sako Musterd and Wim Ostendorf, “SpatialMigration and Integration in theNetherlands,” in ResidentialSegregation andthe Integration of
Immigrants: Britain,the Netherlands, andSweden,ed. Karen Schonwalder (Berlin: SocialScienceResearch Center Berlin,2007),45. URL:
93 Pellenbarg et al., "Foreign Born Population…,” 132.
94 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI Report… 32.
95 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI Report… 41.
96 “Poles, Bulgarians say they facemorediscrimination in theNetherlands,” DutchNews.nl, 28April, 2015, accessed 12 May,
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Geert Wilders, Theo Van Gogh, and Hirsi Ali, a prominent Somali-born anti-Islam activist.
Incidents of xenophobic vandalism against Muslim landmarks and property are common; Ineke
Van Der Valk notes that violence against mosques increased in the late 1990s and early 2000s,
possibly in response to events such as 9/11 or the assassination of Theo Van Gogh.97 The latter
of these two incidents prompted a much more notable reaction – 45 incidents of violence towards
mosques took place in the space of two months following his assassination, including 18
incidents of arson or attempted arson.98 Other reports indicate that almost 40% of all mosques in
the Netherlands have been attacked or adorned with xenophobic graffiti.99 Also, non-violent
incidents of “activism” have often complicated the lives of Muslims in the Netherlands; in 2015
(following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France) persistent public protests have repeatedly
disrupted plans to build Mosques.100 These are all trends that have certainly not gone unnoticed
outside of the Netherlands; in 2008, an ECRI report warned against rising Islamophobia in Dutch
In sum, there is strong support for the expectation that migrants and “allochthones” in the
Netherlands are not well integrated into society
Expectation 2e: The Netherlands is at great real or perceived risk of terrorist activity
One of the most high-profile instances of terrorism to occur in the Netherlands in recent memory
is the assassination of Theo Van Gogh in 2004. As mentioned earlier, this event accentuated
97 Inekevan der Valk, Islamofobia in the Netherlands,(Amsterdam, AmsterdamUniversity Press, 2012), 61. Accesssed:
98 Ibid., 62.
99 Jan Keulen, “Islamophobia and fear increasing in theNetherlands,” Middle East Eye, 10March2015, accessed 12 May, 2015,
100 “Mosqueplans run into difficulties dueto public protests,”DutchNews.nl, 10 March, 2015,accessed 12May, 2015,
101 “Islamophobia rises in Holland: Eu body,” DutchNews.nl, 11February, 2008,accessed 12May, 2015,
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divisions in Dutch society between Muslims (who are often immigrants or allochthones) and
non-Muslims (who are often not). In addition, some of Van Gogh’s colleagues and associates,
including Geert Wilders and Hirsi Ali, have publicly expressed concerns for their own safety
After receiving death threats, Ali was forced to go into hiding, and eventually leave the country;
Wilders has professed that he often must wear a bulletproof vest in public.102 These phenomena,
combined with other acts of terrorism around Europe, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre in
France that occurred in early 2015, may have raised public perception that the risk of a terrorist
attack is quite high, and that such an attack might be carried out by Muslims. Indeed these
incidents may be why concern about Islamist extremism is so high; as revealed by the Pew
Research Center poll mentioned earlier.103
The Netherlands’ government seems to agree with this sentiment. An early 2015 report
issued by the Netherlands Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism ranks the terrorist
threat level for the Netherlands as “substantial.”104 The report also notes concern for “Salafists
and ultraorthodox preachers [who] may be contributing to radicalization,” and “jihadist travelers
and returnees.”105 A previous report mentions that approximately 190 people have left the
Netherlands to fight in “jihadist conflict zones… around 35 of whom have returned and 30 of
whom have been killed.”106
Perhaps this is why the Netherlands has opted for a great degree of cooperation with
regards to counterterrorism both within the EU and elsewhere. Its worldwide commitment is
102 “Geert Wilders: For six years I’veto debatewearing a bulletproof vest,” YouTubevideo, posted by user: “KuffarTube,”
103 Pew Research Center, “Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics,” PewResearch Center, 14July, 2005, accessed
11 May, 2015,http://www.pewglobal.org/2005/07/14/islamic-extremism-common-concern-for-muslim-and-western-publics/.
104 NationalCoordinator for Securityand Counterterrorism,Summary DTN38,14 April2015, Netherlands Ministryof Securityand Justice,
accessed 10 May 2015,https://english.nctv.nl/Images/policy-implications-dtn38-def_tcm92-589105.pdf?cp=92&cs=65038.
106 NationalCoordinator for Securityand Counterterrorism,“Threat levelremains ‘substantial,’” Netherlands Ministryof Securityand Justice, 14
April, 2015, accessed 10May 2015,https://english.nctv.nl/currenttopics/news/2015/20150414-threat-level-remains-
14 May 2015
demonstrated by substantial contributions to many anti-terrorism conflicts (including in Syria
and Afghanistan) that were mentioned in the research hypothesis section of this paper. On the
EU level, the Netherlands has cooperated with the EU and its member states in military
operations abroad (also mentioned in the research hypothesis section of this paper) and, most
recently, signed a counterterrorism cooperation agreement with Belgium, including measures to
share responsibilities for policing their airspace against “civil aircraft that may pose a terrorist
threat” as well as a plan to “share embassy premises in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the
Congo,” for security purposes.107
In sum, it appears that the evidence supports this expectation for the research hypothesis,
and indicates that the Dutch government and its people do perceive the threat of a terrorist attack.
Expectation 2f: There is considerable division within the Netherlands on immigration in general.
In this section, I will particularly focus on civil society, since political and economic divisions
have already been thoroughly examined throughout this paper.
There seems to be far more division in Dutch society over Muslim immigrants than over
eastern Europeans or Roma. While animosity towards eastern Europeans seems to be mostly the
result of brooding economic tensions, tension regarding Muslims has been exacerbated by
several high profile events, many of which I have already mentioned (including the Theo Van
Gogh Assassination, 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and various other terrorist attacks around
Europe.) Another, less violent event that I have not yet mentioned was a series of statements in
2001 by Khalil El-Moumni, a Dutch imam who caused a major stir when he spoke out on TV
against gays and gay marriage, saying that Europeans are “lower than pigs and dogs” for
107 Government of theNetherlands,“Netherlands andBelgium united against terrorism,”Government of theNetherlands,4 March, 2015,
accessed 12 May 2015,http://www.government.nl/news/2015/03/04/netherlands-and-belgium-united-against-terrorism.html.
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accepting homosexuality.108 These statements were not well received by the native Dutch, who
have traditionally been very friendly and accepting of homosexuals. This event helped to tie
Islam and homophobia together in the minds of many Dutch, and has been used as ammunition
by prominent anti-Islam figures such as Geert Wilders, Hirsi Ali, and Pim Fortuyn (who himself
was openly gay.)109 There was also a marked increase in Dutch concern for the role of imams in
radicalizing Dutch Muslims, which is certainly clear from the aforementioned report from the
Dutch counterterrorism bureau.110 Perhaps as a result, a great deal of frustrated Dutch imams
began to leave the Netherlands for other European countries in 2007, where they believed they
would not encounter the same level of discrimination.111
In light of this, Muslim communities have sought ways of improving their position and
advocating for themselves in the Dutch government. A number of Islamic advocacy
organizations appeared soon after the assassination of Van Gogh in 2004. In that year, a group
of Dutch imams formed the Liaison Committee for Muslims and the Government (CMO), which
acts as an umbrella organization for smaller, pre-existing Sunni Muslim organizations with the
aim of presenting a united voice to the Dutch government on integration issues.112 Soon
afterwards, a group of Shi’a imams in the Netherlands formed the Muslim Contact Group (CGI),
which performs a similar function.113
There are also some ethnicity-focused organizations that have advocated for the rights of
the minorities they represent. For instance, the Association of Moroccan Netherlanders pressed
hate-speech charges against Geert Wilders for promising a crowd that he would arrange for there
108 Gert Hekma and Jan Willem Duyvendak, "Queer Netherlands: A Puzzling Example." Sexualities 14,no.6 (2011), 626.
109 Ibid., 626.
110 NationalCoordinator for Securityand Counterterrorism, Summary DTN38…
111 Sam Wilson, “Dutchimams ‘leaving in droves,’” BBC, 19January2007, accessed 12 May 2015,
112 Euro-Islam.info, “Islam in theNetherlands,” Euro-Islam.info, accessed 12 May, 2015,http://www.euro-islam.info/country-profiles/the-
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to be “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.114 Wilders was acquitted of these charges, but the
incident shows that Muslim and immigrant organizations have the ability to advocate for the
rights of those they represent.
On the other hand, there have been some xenophobic organizations or trends within
Dutch society as well. In the mid-2000s, a right-wing cultural clique known as “the Lonsdale
youth,” became prominent in the Netherlands. On multiple occasions, groups of these “Lonsdale
youths” carried out violent attacks and acts of vandalism against immigrants.115 However, the
number of incidents involving this group declined sharply after 2007 and 2008, possibly due to a
decline in the movement’s popularity.116 In addition, Patriotic Europeans Against the
Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), a movement that originated in Germany, has recently
opened a branch in the Netherlands, though I cannot find information about incidents or events in
which they have participated (which may be due to my lack of proficiency in the Dutch
I have not been able to find information on similar organizations that support (or decry)
eastern Europeans or Roma, but this may be due to either a crowding-out by information on
Islam in the Netherlands, or simply due to my lack of ability to deal with Dutch sources.
Alternatively, it may be an indicator that the Roma issue is not particularly salient in Dutch
politics or society.
114 AgenceFrance-Presse, “Dutch politician Geert Wilders takes aim at Moroccans and sparks outrage,” Guardian,20March,2014, accessed 12
May, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/20/dutch-politician-geert-wilders-moroccans-outrage-pvv-party-anti-islam ;
Charlemagne, “TheDutchfar-right: a step toofar?” The Economist, 20March2014. Accessed 13 May 2015,
115 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI Report… 42.
117 Lisa DeBode, “PEGIDA movementspreads across Europe, stirs anti-immigrant sentiment,” Al-Jazeera America, 14January, 2015,
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Combined with much of the information that I provided in earlier sections of this paper,
this evidence generally supports the expectation that migration is a source of division within
society that extends beyond the political realm, particularly with regards to Islam.
Expectation 2g: The government, political leaders, and the public tend to favor national
approaches to immigration issues, rather than close cooperation with the EU and its member
Up until this point, we have encountered a great deal of evidence that supports this expectation,
including opinion polls revealing Dutch sentiment for the concern over the number of migrants
or Muslims in the Netherlands (discussed in Expectation 2b ), the Dutch government’s steadily
increasing objections to the EU Family Reunification Directive (discussed in Expectations 1c
and 2b), Prime Minister Rutte’s expressed interest in obtaining an exemption from EU migration
laws (discussed in Expectation 1c), and the opinions of some Dutch MEPs that member-states
reserve the right to determine how many immigrants are allowed to enter their borders (discussed
in Expectation 1b).
However, there have also been strong indications that the Netherlands is not entirely
averse to supranational and intergovernmental cooperation, coordination, and solidarity. This
can largely be found in the Dutch government’s official priorities for the Stockholm Programme,
which showed an interest in refugee burden-sharing through a “European Resettlement Policy”
for immigrants, and a “European quota” on immigration flows, as well as continued collective
efforts to strengthen the capacities of the border control agency Frontex and its subsidiary
14 May 2015
programs, such as Eurosur.118 This indicates that the Netherlands seems to have an aversion to
supranational laws in areas that have the potential to increase the number of migrants entering
the Netherlands, but also sees potential for using supranational initiatives as a way of limiting or
reducing the number of migrants within the Netherlands. Therefore, it appears that the evidence
for this expectation is mixed.
To conclude this test of the alternative hypothesis, the results are slightly mixed. In
support of the research hypothesis, we find that (2a) the Netherlands has experienced an influx of
immigrants (from either outside or inside the EU) that has made a significant impact on the
country’s demographics, (2b) leaders of political parties and within the general public have
called for limits on the number of refugees and asylum seekers from outside the EU who may
remain in the Netherlands, (2c) immigrants, in general, lack economic opportunity in the
Netherlands, (2d) in general, immigrants are not well integrated into society, (2e) there is a real
or perceived risk of terrorist activity, and (2f) there is considerable division within the
Netherlands on immigration in general. However, there is only mixed evidence for the
expectation that (2g) the government, political leaders, and the public in the Netherlands tend to
favor national approaches to immigration issues, rather than close cooperation with the EU and
its member states, which is a crucial expectation in regards to this hypothesis. Overall, a large
majority of the evidence examined here is consistent with the alternative hypothesis. However,
we will address the mixed aspects of the results in the conclusion section.
118 Government of theNetherlands,DutchPriorities for the Stockholm Programme…
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Based on the evidence that I have presented here, analysis of the research hypothesis
yielded mostly mixed outcomes, while analysis of the alternative hypothesis yielded mostly
supportive and consistent outcomes. However the mixed outcome of the research hypothesis
test, taken into account with the mixed outcome of expectation 2g, lead me to conclude that this
hypothesis test yielded mixed results overall. The most plausible explanation for this mixed
outcome seems to be rooted in the fact that the two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive; it is
entirely possible for the Netherlands to prefer nationally and domestically driven solutions to
certain aspects of its immigration problems, while simultaneously favoring supranational
solutions to others. This leads me to the conclusion that, while domestic factors seem to have
induced the Netherlands into primarily pursuing national and domestic solutions to its migration
and asylum challenges, the country and its leaders have shown considerably less aversion to
supranational and intergovernmental agreements that could potentially limit the amount of
migrants residing there.
Moving forward, the Netherlands and the EU face three possible scenarios: First, the
Netherlands may continue to push back against supranationally imposed restrictions on its
migration policies. This would require that public sentiment in the Netherlands continues to
reflect an aversion to migrants from EU and non-EU countries, as well as xenophobia or
Islamophobia. Dutch political leaders would continue to advocate for changes to or exemptions
from EU policies, both of which would be detrimental to the EU as a whole, in that they would
14 May 2015
partially reverse its supranational authority and potentially encourage other member states with
similar sentiments to follow suit.
Alternatively, the EU might succeed in forcing the Netherlands to comply with its
supranational CEAS policies through punitive or coercive action coming from the European
Commission or the European Court of Justice. Although this would temporarily succeed, it
would not eliminate the grassroots anti-immigrant sentiment that has continued in the
Netherlands for more than a decade, and might even amplify it, while simultaneously producing
more Dutch Euroskepticism.
A third scenario – sort of a "middle ground" – would require a good amount of
bargaining between EU institutions and the Netherlands. In this scenario, the EU would
implement policies that would reduce the need for the Netherlands to contradict EU laws in order
to satisfy its disillusioned citizens. The EU could also bargain with the Netherlands, as well as
other independent-minded member states, by providing them with incentives in exchange for
their compliance with EU migration and asylum laws as they currently stand. Indeed the
Netherlands has demonstrated a willingness to comply with supranational and intergovernmental
initiatives that would potentially redistribute refugees and other non-EU migrants into other
member states, or that would reduce the amount of non-EU migrants entering the EU as a whole.
Additionally, the EU could seek solutions to the 'tsunami' of eastern Europeans in the
Netherlands by creating pull factors for migrant workers elsewhere (e.g. by creating market
conditions in other states, and potentially in Eastern Europe, that are favorable to the kind of
workers that the Netherlands currently attracts) rather than reducing freedom of movement
within the EU.
14 May 2015
In order to pursue this “third scenario,” Jean-Claude Juncker should work with the
College of Commissioners to produce a series of green papers for the Council of the EU, as a
way of exploring possibilities for negotiation with the Netherlands and other states that actively
resist certain EU-wide migration policies. Some potential ideas to explore are ways of creating
“pull factors” elsewhere in the EU to attract eastern-European migrants, or to create “pull-
factors” in those eastern-European countries themselves. This would potentially help to ease
anti-immigrant sentiment in some of these western-European states without explicitly placing
limitations on intra-EU travel. Leaders in the Netherlands, such as Prime Minister Mark Rutte,
could enhance intergovernmental partnerships with those countries from which these migrant
workers are arriving, and work to implement market-oriented reforms in those countries so that
workers do not feel as inclined to leave.
The issue of immigrants from outside of the EU may be more straightforward – the
Netherlands has shown willingness to work with the EU and other member states on projects that
would enhance border security. It may not be possible or economically feasible to completely
secure Europe’s borders, but initiatives that seem to move towards that direction could at least be
used as a bargaining chip for eliciting the Netherlands’ cooperation in other areas. Programs that
help to distribute immigrants and refugees more evenly across member states could also work to
this effect. As this paper goes to press, a refugee distribution plan proposed by the Commission,
which would send a relatively low amount of Europe’s refugees to the Netherlands, is being
discussed by Dutch ministers.119 Their reaction to this plan may gauge how much of a refugee
119 “TheNetherlands to take4% of refugees under Brussels plans,” DutchNews.nl, 13May 2015, accessed 14May 2015,
14 May 2015
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