Orgineel Engels artikel, gepubliceerd op http://www.janvranken.eu
The Dutch social welfare state comes at a price. The last five decades we have seen A central government apparatus that has become bigger and bigger. Some people say it has become like a water head too big to carry its own weight. In order to maintain the social welfare state of which the Dutch are so proud the country has to invest vast loads of money. Increasing tax measures can only generate these investments. The current liberal social government of the Netherlands acknowledges that these increasing tax measures to maintain the welfare state do not represent the durable solutions that are so needed to maintain prosperity and welfare for the people.
Over the last two years we have seen an on-going and intensifying process of decentralization. The government is initiating a process in which more and more responsibilities are being transferred to lower political levels. This way the central government can control it its costs and at the same time give municipalities more control over their own expenditures. Now in 2014 we can see that the process of decentralization of government responsibilities has reached its outer limits. Now we see responsibilities such as health care, care for the elderly and solving problems around former asylum seekers and undocumented migrants that were the responsibility of the central government being transferred to the lower level of the municipalities. Especially the smaller municipalities do not have the expertise nor experience to deal with these kinds of challenges. It is not only with less expertise and experience that the municipalities have to deal with these problems; the transfer of sufficient financial means has not accompanied the transfer of responsibilities.
A good example of these problems can be seen when we look at the way a city like Amsterdam is dealing with the challenges it has on the field off undocumented migrants, rejected asylum seekers versus the national politics on this area. Dutch asylum politics has one big flaw; there is no end to it. Dutch politics provides no instruments to municipalities and government organizations to deal with people who are not able to obtain a residence permit. If these people don’t return to their own country or a third country they will stay and become illegal aliens. Central government administration will say these people have left with an unknown destination whereas the truth shows us these people are still living in the Netherlands. Now they are the responsibility of the municipalities. The central government in The Hague has issued directions to not support these illegal aliens in anyway. So now it has become a problem of the municipality. It is quite understandable that in smaller cities where there is no financial nor intellectual capacity to deal with these problems nothing can be done to tackle the problems at hand. In these municipalities it is often left to volunteers, activists and their organizations to deal with the issues that cannot be solved by local politics. Big cities, like Amsterdam are often faced with the same type of problems in greater magnitudes. This calls for pro-active decision-making and action. Here is where the dilemma kicks in.
Following the national policy on undocumented migrants and failed asylum seekers would most certainly bring about social unrest and humanitarian problems within the city boundaries. It would most certainly not help the situation, more likely it would bring about a deterioration of the situation.
Local aldermen Andree van Es finds herself stuck in the middle of an unsolvable problem. The only sensible thing to do is to sustain the existing situation and try to avoid further escalation of the problem. Although a city does not have the financial means to support this policy for long time it is the only thing they can do. It is also a way of keeping pressure on the national government to keep the issue on top of the political agenda. Effectively this is the situation we have had for the last years in the Netherlands. Mrs van Es is doing everything possible to maintain a certain level of decency and care for the people concerned in Amsterdam. I am sure she is not satisfied about the outcome so far. They situation is unsustainable and will most surely lead to new escalations and humanitarian problems.
Until national politics has the guts to address the problems at the end of the so called asylum-chain, and comes up with a real and plausible solution for those we are not allowed to stay in the Netherlands, we will continue to see and growing numbers of undocumented migrants and failed asylum seekers in Dutch society.
As a consultant on migrant issues I recognise the dilemmas municipalities have to deal with. Without expertise is impossible to deal with these dilemmas. I help, counsel and support both municipalities and the migrants concerned. Until the responsible policymakers decide to fix the hole at the end of our aliens-law this unwanted situation will continue to exist. The problem cannot be solved until responsible aldermen like Andree van Es in Amsterdam and get the tools to do so. I am afraid this stand off will continue to exist even after new municipal and national elections.
In my next article I will line out some prototype solutions that could make an end to this dilemma. All it takes is political braveness and a sense of responsibility like aldermen van Es is showing in Amsterdam.