Turks exempt from Dutch integration courses

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The Netherlands cannot require Turkish immigrants with residence permits to follow integration courses. The ruling by the Utrecht Court of Appeals was announced on Tuesday.

Last year, judges from Roermond and Rotterdam ruled in three different cases that imposing integration courses on Turkish residents of the Netherlands is in violation of agreements between Turkey and the European Union. The appeals court has now upheld these rulings.

In 2007, the Netherlands instituted the Civic Integration Act stipulating that everyone who emigrates to the Netherlands, including people from Turkey, must successfully complete integration courses. However, this is in conflict with an EU treaty stating that member states cannot make new laws that restrict the rights granted to Turks. It also says there must be no discrimination between Turkish and EU citizens.

Tuesday’s ruling cannot be appealed against, as it comes from the highest judicial body in the Netherlands. However, the decision will not affect Dutch law regarding integration, said a court spokesperson. Turks will not be obliged to take the courses, but they may still choose to enrol. 

Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam PVV party called the ruling bizarre. The party has called on Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner to take measures to ensure that Turks become naturalised citizens. 

In a statement released Tuesday, Minister Donner agreed to look into the issue. The cabinet has also announced a commitment to adjusting the treaty between Turkey and the EU. To do that, the Netherlands will need to gain support from other member states.

(lo/mw)

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