The Dutch General Election and Mobility Policies in the Netherlands

Worldwide ERC® Global Forum Chair Nino Nelissen previews the upcoming Dutch elections and their impact on workforce mobility.

On 17 March, there will be elections in the Netherlands for the representatives in the Second Chamber of Dutch Parliament. The majority of this Second Chamber forms a government, headed by a Prime Minister. Usually, the leader of the largest party in government becomes the Prime Minister.
With this election coming up, the big question will be their impact with respect to global mobility business and activities.

Political parties have published their plans for the country. Notably, workforce mobility policies are not a top priority by major political parties in the Netherlands. However, some of the larger parties have mobility items in their plans. The largest Dutch party (also in the Polls), the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), wishes to make it easier for knowledge migrants to come to the Netherlands. They propose a points-based migration system where income, educational background, work experience and language skills are relevant in determining whether a worker is allowed in the Netherlands. Also, Democrats 66 (D66), our fourth party, wishes to facilitate business immigration.

Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), our third party in size, wishes to establish further rights for migrants coming from (Central) Europe, an area that is known for delivering relatively cheap labor. Also, they are looking to abolish tax incentives for expatriates coming to the Netherlands. This could have an impact on the current 30% tax ruling (a popular tax advantage covering Extra-Territorial Expenses), when this plan is adopted by the next government.

These plans, of which some may be good and some bad for the mobility industry, lead to the question of whether significant real changes can be expected in the near future. It is my personal view that this will not be the case. Let me explain why.

First, one must understand the Dutch political landscape - we have 15 political parties in Parliament. Together, they need to fill 150 seats. Parties range from mainstream to special interest (a party for the elderly, a party for cultural minorities, a party in particular aiming for the vote of Turkish citizens in the Netherlands, a party whose main interest is to defend animal rights) to one-person parties of individuals that separated from the party to which they originally belonged. After the election, a coalition agreement will be agreed upon by the parties that form the new government. With an anticipated minimum of four parties needed to conclude an agreement, it is certain that a lot of the original plans will not make it to become reality.

Secondly, one must realize that the Dutch legislative landscape is already quite friendly towards internationals. We have friendly immigration laws, friendly tax law, etc. There is no common opinion that immigration thresholds for business migration must be raised. Some parties wish to make it easier, but restrictions can mainly be expected when it comes to migration from (central) Europe, trying to avoid cheap labor in western Europe, and a drain of workforce and talent from central Europe.

There is one bigger concern that is addressed more thoroughly in the programs of the political parties: the housing situation. The production of homes runs short, leaving a tight housing market. This tight housing market causes issues for both Dutch residents as well as for migrating individuals. This is a problem that must be taken seriously and dealt with regardless of the Government we will have for the next few years.

From a political landscape with a plethora of parties to a legislative landscape that’s friendly to internationals, as well as a tight housing market, the Netherlands is unlikely to see major changes to workforce mobility policies. However, for many in Dutch politics, making it easier for skilled migrants to come to the Netherlands is a top priority, representing the importance of workforce mobility in the country.

Nino Nelissen is managing director with EMG, Executive Mobility Group, based at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, and is Chair of the Worldwide ERC® Global Forum. He can be reached at nino.nelissen@executivemobility-group.com.

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