Duvar English

The Netherlands will introduce compulsory integration tests for asylum seekers from Turkey starting on May 1. The implementation will initially cover asylum seekers, but starting on July 2021, it will be extended to all Turkish nationals wishing to reside in the Netherlands, BBC Turkish reported on April 13.

Turkish nationals had been exempt from the compulsory integration courses since 2011 because the requirement conflicted with EU treaties with Turkey. However, in the face of an increase in the number of asylum seeker applications from Turkey in recent years, especially following the failed coup attempt of July 2016, the Dutch government introduced a change in the integration legislation regulations.

The social affairs ministry initially had planed to introduce the new rule on January of next year, however, due to a criticism of a coalition of parties, the ministry decided to bring the implementation date forward.

The new rule means that as of May 1, Turkish nationals will have to pass a basic exam before they can move to the Netherlands. That exam will include a B1 level language test and a test on Dutch society. Once in the Netherlands, local authorities will be charged with devising a tailor-made program for each individual.

And the new rule will apply to Turkish nationals seeking to get a residence permit for the purpose of family reunification as of July 1, 2021. Experts foresee that it will be quite difficult for people living in Turkey’s Anatolian provinces to follow the language and integration courses held in the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, as a result of which there will be a dramatic fall in the number of Turkish nationals arriving in the Netherlands.

Zeki Baran, the chairman of the Advisory Board for Turks in the Netherlands (IOT), has said that the new rule is against the EU treaties with Turkey and it will create serious problems for especially low-educated Turkish immigrants.

Some of the Turkish foundations in the Netherlands are reportedly preparing to take the Dutch government’s new rule to international courts.

The EU’s association treaty with Turkey, signed in 1963, contains a so-called “stand still” clause that prevents member states attaching conditions to freedom of movement, including citizenship tests. However, the Dutch government says that a judgment by the European Court of Justice allows for restrictions where there is a “overriding reason in the public interest.”