Flanders’ nationalist party N-VA, the Christian Democrats (CD&V) and liberals (Open VLD) announced a series of measures targeted at immigrants and asylum seekers as part of a coalition agreement for the region’s new government.
The measures will make it more difficult for foreigners to come live there, the N-VA’s Jan Jambon said.
The measures include higher Dutch language requirements for newcomers and a €360 fee for an integration program. Residency requirements to access some social benefits will also be longer and asylum seekers will no longer be eligible for childcare allowances while their asylum requests are processed.
The announcements follows 127 days of negotiations between the N-VA and its coalition partners after regional elections on May 26. The other Belgian regions, Brussels and Wallonia, already formed their governments. A new federal government, however, is still far away, after same-day elections led to a diverging outcome in right-leaning Flanders and left-leaning Wallonia.
The new measures are part of the N-VA’s efforts to appease hardline elements within the party, after the far-right Vlaams Belang came close on its heel in the Flanders regional election. All three coalition partners lost votes.
The entry ticket is becoming more expensive but who’s in gets full membership,” said Jambon, Belgium’s former interior minister who is set to become minister-president of the Dutch-speaking region — Belgium’s largest — for the next five years.