Bart Sommers fits into the separated society: ‘The society with ghettos is not desirable’

According to Summers, it is about “the best integration policy imaginable in a European context”. “We are asking newcomers to make extra efforts and give them extra opportunities,” says De Zondag. “In addition to learning the Dutch language and the social orientation course, we will from now on orient people to the VDAB in two months. In the past, this only happened at the end of the course. In addition, each integrator gets a Flemish companion for 40 hours.”

These Flemish comrades, the volunteers, spend time with the Unitarians and thus introduce them to the community. Sommers says it’s a good development. “I support a separate society in which we do not live, but next to each other,” he says. “The existence of a society with ghettos is undesirable, and as a result, the indigenous people no longer feel at home, and those who grew up in such a ghetto are restricted in their freedom. I want to break through this separation and this process of friends contributes to that.”

Somers expects that enough volunteers will be found to operate the buddy system. “There are many people who think that newcomers should learn Dutch and would like to participate in it themselves. I strongly believe in Flemish voluntarism.”

Less lack of commitment

The renewed civil integration program is no longer free and less mandatory, the minister says. “One pays 90 euros per part. A good amount, so that it turns out that these courses have value,” says Somers, who says exams are being developed as well. “If you don’t pass, you have to re-take a course, and that will cost you another 90 euros. There are also fines for those who do not show up to class, which can be up to 5,000 euros.

If people deliberately refuse to integrate, this is transferred to the Immigration Department, which in the most extreme cases can withdraw the residence permit. “Becoming a citizen of our society places a number of obligations on you,” Sommer says. But we note that the vast majority of newcomers desire integration and self-reliance. More than half follow the course voluntarily.”

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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