Lelystad airport opening to charter flights put back to 2020

Minister pledges more funding for top Dutch athletes

Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen is poised to announce a further delay in the expansion of Lelystad airport into commercial flights, RTL Nieuws said on Wednesday. Lelystad should be open to charter holiday flights from next year, but that will now be pushed back until 2020, the broadcaster said. The minister is said to want more time to deal with the complex procedures surrounding the change in the airport's use, which is opposed by locals and people living under the potential flight paths. Lelystad is being expanded to reduce the pressure on Schiphol airport which will focus on intercontinental flights and transit passengers. But the expansion plans have led to major protests by people who will be affected by low-flying planes. In addition, last year it emerged that the noise calculations for local residents were wrong and that people will suffer far more aircraft nuisance than expected.  More >

No referendum over scrapping referendums

Minister pledges more funding for top Dutch athletes The coalition government is pressing ahead with its plans to scrap advisory referendums from the statute books and will not sanction a referendum on the plans, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren told MPs on Tuesday evening. The minister came under particularly heavy fire during a second stormy debate on the issue because her party D66 had for a long time made referendums a central part of their policy. Opposition parties are furious that Ollongren has refused to allow a referendum on the plan even though her position has been upheld by the Council of State. However, a motion of no confidence in the minister, put forward by Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet, was only supported by the anti-Islam PVV and the pro-animal PvdD. MPs will vote on the decision to scrap referendums on Thursday, after which it will be referred to the upper house of parliament. There has only been one advisory referendum since the legislation was introduced several years ago – the 2016 vote on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine. Some 2.5 million people voted in the referendum, taking the turnout just over the 30% required for the result to have legal standing. One more referendum will take place – on giving new phone and internet tapping powers to the security services – at the same time as the local elections on March 21.  More >

EU challenged over disinformation claims

Minister pledges more funding for top Dutch athletes Three Dutch media companies are taking the European Commission to court for branding them spreaders of fake news. Shock blog GeenStijl, populist website The Post Online and De Persgroep want the Commission's anti-disinformation task force to rectify claims that they spread fake news, or face a fine of €20,000 a day. EU vs Disinfo is part of the EU's external action service East Stratcom Task Force, which falls under the responsibility of foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and was set up to challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns in March 2015. After their initial legal protests, GeenStijl and The Post Online are no longer listed on the website as distributors of fake news but are demanding a formal rectification. Persgroep paper De Gelderlander is included on the website for an article about the Buk rocket used to bring down flight MH17. The case will be heard in Amsterdam on March 14.  More >

Foreign firms dominate NL solar farms

Minister pledges more funding for top Dutch athletes Companies from Germany, Scandinavia, Britain and China are building most of the large-scale solar power farms in the Netherlands, project developers and subsidy consultants have told the Financieele Dagblad. The foreign solar panel park developers are partly attracted to the Netherlands because of the substantial subsidies for the projects, the paper said. Billions of euros are available every year. 'More than a third of the funds available in subsidies for solar power farms goes to non-Dutch companies,' said Douwe Faber of consultancy Ekwadraat. The Netherlands, he said, has waited too long to develop its solar power strategy and little expertise was developed in building solar farms in the Netherlands as a result. Among the foreign-owned projects currently underway: Norway's Statskraft is developing a 17-hectare solar farm in Emmen and China's Unisun is building its first Dutch solar energy farm in Rilland, Zeeland province. In addition, the Danish investor in sustainable energy Obton announced plans in November to invest €100m a year to develop solar energy projects in the Netherlands over the next few years. All these projects are eligible for subsidies of around €100m, the paper said.  More >

NXP shares rise after better Qualcom bid

Minister pledges more funding for top Dutch athletes Shares in big Dutch chips maker NXP shot up by 5% on the US technology exchange Nasdaq on Tuesday after its US peer Qualcomm raised its bid for the company to €43bn from €39bn. Qualcomm lost only 1.3% in Nasdaq trading after the sweetened bid was announced, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday. About six months ago the US chip maker was bidding $110 a share for NXP, valuing it at €39bn. NXP found that price too low but now NXP's nine largest shareholders - including activist shareholder Elliott Management, agree with the latest offer, Qualcomm said. If NXP shareholders can be persuaded to sell their shares, the transaction will be one of the largest-ever in the Netherlands. NXP has a worldwide payroll of 33,000, of whom 2,500 are located in the Netherlands in units at Eindhoven and Nijmegen. Qualcomm first brought out a bid for NXP in October 2016. Both NXP and Qualcomm have developed important innovative technologies used in mobile phones. NXP was part of Dutch electronics giant Philips until 2006. The European Commission approved the transaction beteen Qualcom and NXP in January.  More >