The “instruction” given by outgoing Secretary of State Anke Brokers-Knoll from Justice to a number of municipalities to facilitate the compulsory emergency reception of asylum seekers is a “fantasy remedy”. It is not how the central government should deal with municipalities. Here’s what Mayor Theo Witterings of Tilburg says on behalf of the VNG in news hour.
Experts believe that the use of this tool can strain relations between the central government and municipalities. They also question whether legal proof of these instructions is sufficient and whether municipalities should comply with the instructions.
The first asylum seekers arrived in Gorinchem today at the temporary emergency reception site. They are there because the Secretary of State Gorinsheim, like Vinray, Enschede and the Rotterdam region, sent a letter instructing those municipalities to accommodate the asylum seekers.
Gerten Bogard, professor of local and regional authorities at Leiden University, says administrative instructions are an exceptional tool that is not often used. Now that is the case, but the question is whether it is used correctly. “There is an indication, but no one knows if the Secretary of State is authorized to issue it. Because there is not enough evidence. So the question is whether this is not a suggested authority.”
According to Bogard, if there is a proposed authority, it is detrimental to interdepartmental relations. It is also clear from the response of Rotterdam Mayor Abu Talib that the letter has led to a sharpening of relations. He described the guide as “blunt and rough.” He also described the foreign minister’s arguments as “unsound”.
Nor does constitutional law professor Wim Formans think this is a good way to persuade local authorities. “I don’t think the government should treat municipalities that way. Don’t impose any obligation, but talk to them.”
Theo Weterings, head of VNG’s board of directors and security, expressed hope that the Cabinet would not do so much. So he hopes to remove the intent to do so from the coalition agreement. “It really is a mockery. This is not how the central government should deal with municipalities. The index is really a fantasy cure.”
Wearings was not surprised by the letter, but said it would not have been necessary if the government had implemented what had been agreed. According to him, the agreement stipulates that the government will in due course submit a report on the areas in which reception facilities should be provided. That hasn’t happened now, he says.
Furthermore, he would like to see a more structural solution. “What the government always does: demolish sites when the flow is low and then want to rebuild again faster with new flow. This yo-yo policy needs to stop.”
Theo Weterings prefers to see vacancies used for other purposes. For example, for housing emergency seekers, students or migrant workers. “This will be the solution. We have already agreed on that with the Cabinet in 2019. But it is not possible to come up with good planning.”
Weterings stresses that the desire to help already exists among the municipalities. Gerten Bogard also sees this, municipalities are answering the call of Broekers-Knol. “You can say: This works. The municipalities that received this letter have taken action. But on the other hand: they go in with a straight leg and take out a mortgage on interdepartmental relations.”
According to Bogard, if municipalities do not want to follow these instructions, it remains to be seen if the central government has the means to enforce compliance. “As long as it is not clear that it is a binding instruction, there is no reason to do anything if the municipalities do not follow it.”
Weterings cannot say whether municipalities will go to court. I also think there is little legal basis.” However, he emphasizes above all that municipalities need to know how many places are required in time, so that they do not have to get into a legal battle. “But I understand that the matter is being looked at and will certainly happen. “
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