Dutch government falls as ministers clash over migration – POLITICO

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The Dutch coalition government collapsed Friday evening after failing to reach a deal on how to handle the number of asylum seekers entering the Netherlands.

For months, ministers have been discussing new measures to limit the flow of asylum seekers to the country. But tensions came to a head this week when two coalition parties refused to support a push by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative party to make it harder for refugee families to reunite.

Rutte has led the Netherlands since October 2010 in four different coalitions, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Dutch history.

His VVD wanted to create a two-tier system for asylum seekers, with people under threat of persecution granted more rights than those fleeing war zones. It also said the number of family members who could join refugees in the second category should be capped at 200 per year.

But the party ran into opposition on the last point from the ChristenUnie, the smallest member of the four-party coalition, which said it was unwilling to break up families.

A final attempt to reach consensus ended without a result on Friday.

VVD asylum minister Eric van der Burg reportedly proposed a compromise by making the family reunification rule an “emergency brake” which would only be triggered if the country’s migration facilities were at risk of becoming overcrowded. But the ChristenUnie rejected this plan too.

Rutte said Friday evening during a press conference that he was “disappointed,” calling the differences in the coalition parties’ views on migration “unbridgeable.”

“Migration is a major political and social issue,” Rutte said. “Now that we have been unable to find agreement on this, we have collectively assessed that the political support under the coalition has disappeared.”

Asylum applications in the Netherlands jumped by a third last year to over 46,000, and are expected to increase to more than 70,000 this year — topping the previous high from 2015.

To improve the conditions in the country’s asylum facilities, Rutte’s party, supported by the conservative CDA, proposed limiting entrance for children of war refugees who are already in the Netherlands and making families wait at least two years before they can be united.

Elections are likely to be held in November.

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