Dutch government falls in dispute over asylum policy

The Netherlands' government fell on Friday evening due to disagreement over asylum policy. The majority parties failed to agree on measures to limit numbers of asylum seekers, Dutch media report.

The collapse of the coalition had been a possibility for several days, following a week of talks. A final crisis meeting took place on Friday in The Hague where a compromise by Asylum and Migration secretary Eric van der Burg was discussed. No agreement was reached, bringing an end to the Rutte IV government after 543 days.

Prime minister Mark Rutte had put pressure on the government this week by placing additional demands on the proposed asylum package, with ChristenUnie objecting to a proposal to limit the possibility of family reunification for asylum seekers with residence permits.

"We were working on a whole package of measures. There was no agreement on that yet. Family reunification was an important part of it"

At a press conference on Friday evening, Rutte called the situation “regrettable, but the political reality we cannot avoid”. He was due to update the king on Saturday. VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie will continue on a caretaker basis, with elections not taking place before mid-November.

“We were working on a whole package of measures. There was no agreement on that yet. Family reunification was an important part of it,” Rutte said, adding that D66 and ChristenUnie consider it “of great importance that family reunification is always possible”. 

Rutte - the Netherlands' longest-serving prime minister - said the four parties had jointly come to the conclusion that further talks no longer made sense. “It is a unanimous decision,” he said. The House will debate the fall of the cabinet on Monday.


Mark Rutte speaks to the press after the final failed talks to find an agreement on asylum policy © ANP ROBIN UTRECHT

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