Focus on individual responsibility

Language lessons
Integration teacher teaching people with a migrant background.

In 2013 a new civic integration programme was introduced in the Netherlands. The focus of the programme is on people's individual responsibility. For instance, newcomers themselves have to choose the (language) courses they want to take and must pay most of the costs. According to the Netherlands Court of Audit this principle of individual responsibility does not work out well. In a research report (23 January 2017) the Court of Audit states that many people who follow an integration programme have difficulty to make all the necessary arrangements via the internet, because they hardly speak Dutch yet.


Some people who are eager to participate in Dutch society get stuck during their integration programme. Municipalities can offer them guidance. They can advise on courses, for instance. The Cabinet wants to amend the Civic Integration Act by 1 July 2017 in order to enhance the role of municipalities. Through a so-called participation statement procedure, municipalities will make newcomers acquainted with the rights, duties and core values of Dutch society. The Cabinet wants this participation statement to become a mandatory part of the civic integration exam. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the bill amending the Civic Integration Act.


Civic integration is an essential precondition for settling in the Netherlands. It is important that newcomers can participate in Dutch society as soon as possible, for instance via school or work. The Dutch core values are the key element of the Cabinet's Integration Agenda. According to the Cabinet society can only function if all the people participate and share certain basic principles, such as equality, freedom and room for variation in religion or life style. That is why the Cabinet focuses on educational programmes about law, punishment and tolerance.


There are worries about the integration of Eritrean migrants in the Netherlands. Through Eritrean organisations, the Eritrean regime is allegedly exerting pressure on Eritreans living in the Netherlands. Research carried out by DSP-groep shows that many Eritreans in the Netherlands feel intimidated and threatened by this. In order to tackle intimidation the Cabinet has forbidden the Eritrean regime to force subjects abroad to pay "diaspora tax". Moreover, the Cabinet tries to improve the participation and integration of Eritreans in the Netherlands. For instance, the ministry of Social Affairs and Employment works on the creation of networks of Dutch Eritreans, municipalities and local organisations.