Safety and security important to both urban and information policy

Secure electronic information, like security in general, is becoming more important in our information society. Third parties can, for instance, read your email, copy it, intercept it, or edit and forward it. They can also pretend to be someone else and, without identifying themselves, access government information, services, and funds.

The government must be able to rule out such risks, especially in the case of elections and applications for and the award of benefits and grants. In 2002, we will step up our efforts to make electronic communications more reliable. It must be possible to identify people and organisations and for them to send each other confidential messages. They must be able to assume that no one will change or intercept their messages during transmission.

An electronic infrastructure that works without problems is also important for the quality of public administration. In 2002, the government will reserve 35 million guilders (almost Ç16 million) to improve the quality of public administration and the security of electronic data transmission.

Electronic identity cards

The development of new travel documents has led to feasibility research on electronic identity cards. A large-scale trial will take place in 2002 into whether such cards are feasible, and if so, how Dutch identity cards can be made suitable for electronic identification. Research will also take place into the biometric features most suitable for inclusion in electronic travel documents. The objective is to reduce look-alike fraud and allow automated border controls.

Electronic services

It should eventually be possible for individuals and businesses to get information 24 hours a day from government bodies and communicate with them via the Internet. In 2002, the last municipalities to open information sites will do so. The objective is for government to provide a quarter of its services electronically by the end of 2002. At the end of 2000, the figure was 18%.

Population registers to modernise

To carry out various tasks, government needs access to the correct full personal details of all Dutch residents, recorded in the Municipal Personal Records Database. In March 2001, it was recommended that the Database be modernised which will probably take eight to ten years. In the short term, various steps are being taken to remove the biggest problems within the Database as it is. The priority is to give the police etc. immediate access to the details they need at all times. To this end, a directory that can be consulted nationwide is being developed for the Database.


In preparation for the e-voting experiment to be conducted in the March 2003 Provincial Councils elections, a nationally accessible electoral register and a virtual polling booth will be designed in 2002. The Council of State is currently considering a bill to allow experimentation in the election process. The use of electronic identity cards for e-voting is being tested in 2001. In 2002, shadow elections and trials will be held to test as many aspects of e-voting as possible.

Urban policy

After years of decline and disadvantage, the cities have been looking up in recent years in comparison with the national trend. But we must maintain our dedication to strengthening the cities, especially the poorer areas. The residents of these areas are being encouraged to contribute ideas and work to improve them. Since local authorities generally know who is doing what in their town or district, they can turn to the appropriate organisations or civic associations and invite them to help make successful policies on the cities and the integration of ethnic minorities. Under the direction of local authorities, all these partners must work together to improve their surroundings.

Improving neighbourhood safety

Despite the results achieved thanks to urban policy and others, safety and the quality of life are still a problem in urban priority areas. The residents themselves will therefore be encouraged to help improve their immediate surroundings. Businesses will also be expected to seek to remove social evils in the areas where they are established.

The government has reserved almost 30 million guilders (Ç13.6 million) per year up to the end of 2003 to give an extra impetus to improving safety and the quality of life in these neighbourhoods. The municipal authorities of the countrys biggest towns and cities will each select one area where disadvantage and problems are the greatest. The government will make funds available for these areas so that ideas from residents, local businesses, and civic organisations can be put into practice. They may want to introduce close-circuit TV, additional patrols with local residents, programmes such as the Moroccan fathers' project, or cooperation between the municipality, police, and local small and medium-sized businesses to prevent shoplifting, vandalism, and burglary.

Results of urban policy

The results of urban policy will be formally accounted for at the end of the covenant period in 2005. In spring 2002, a preliminary audit will be made of the full breadth of policy. The Public Administration Council, the Financial Relations Council, the Council for Social Development, the Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment Council, and the Socioenomic Council have all been asked for advice on further improving urban policy. They will announce their recommendations before the audit. On the basis of these recommendations and the audit, to which the government will respond, urban policy will be adjusted to improve its performance and impact if necessary.

Integration policy

The central objectives of integration policy (to help create a society that ethnic minorities can also be full and active members of) are still as significant and topical as ever. There have also been positive developments, such as improvements in educational performance and a sharp fall in unemployment among ethnic minorities.

Stepping up integration

It is very important that ethnic minorities integrate into Dutch society. New immigrants have to undergo compulsory integration courses under the Newcomers Integration Act, effective since 1998. The government is currently evaluating the Act and in 2002 will look at whether the evaluation should lead to amendments.

For 2002 and the years ahead, the government has reserved over 100 million guilders (Ç47.6 million) extra for the integration of ethnic minorities who have been living in the Netherlands for longer. Within this group, the government will give priority to job seekers and those raising children. Of these groups, only job seekers re-entering the work force will have to attend an integration course.

Preventing minorities from committing crime

The government is releasing almost 25 million guilders (Ç 11.3 million) per year up to 2004 for the follow-up to the CRIEM programme. At the core of this policy are municipal efforts to prevent crime and marginalisation among young people from ethnic minorities. Up to 2004, the government will help 44 municipalities develop and carry out local initiatives.

The budget will also be used to develop assistance and instruments that the municipalities can use to devise preventive policies and to support best practices in knowledge sharing among municipalities. The objective is to improve the recording and exchange of personal details between institutions (within the limits of privacy legislation), to improve understanding of how accessible municipal institutions are for ethnic-minority youth, and to improve the dissemination of knowledge about projects carried out elsewhere.

Young people from the Netherlands Antilles

Now that young Antilleans who want to move to the Netherlands will not be receiving integration courses in the Netherlands Antilles for the time being action will have to be taken in the Netherlands to help them at local level. The basic principle is that solving the problems is primarily a municipal responsibility.

In 2001, it was established which municipalities contain concentrations of Antillean young people who really cause problems. In 2002, these municipalities will be invited to draw up plans to assist and improve the position of these young people. On this basis, money will be made available in addition to the municipal contributions.

In principle, almost eight million guilders (Ç3.6 million) will be available per year from 2002 to 2004 to assist and improve the situation of Antillean young people. This is in addition to the funds already available as part of the CRIEM policy for the seven municipalities with high concentrations of Antilleans.

The aim is to achieve a joined-up approach, encouraging these young people to assimilate and get jobs. The municipalities will offer a cohesive package consisting of accommodation and a course at a Regional Training Centre.