Brussels asks the Netherlands to take 2,047 refugees to ease pressure on south

Motorbike gang raids net five rocket launchers

The European Commission has asked the Netherlands to accept 2,047 refugees from Syria and Eritrea to help relieve the pressure on Mediterranean countries which are coping with a surge of asylum seekers. The relocation effort is focusing on people from Eritrea and Syria because they are most likely to be entitled to refugee status because of the situation in their home countries, broadcaster Nos reports. The commission has drawn up a plan to divide 40,000 refugees between the member states, although Britain, Ireland and Denmark have said they will not take part. [banner] Brussels has set aside a budget of €6,000 per refugee. European commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos described the proposal as fair and balanced and stressed that the scheme is not open to economic migrants. The commission also wants the Netherlands to take a further 732 people who are in camps in Syria and its surrounding countries and who need proper care. European ministers will discuss the plans at their summit at the end of June. The Netherlands has already said it has many questions about the proposals. More on the EU plans  More >

Biker gang raids net five rocket launchers

Motorbike gang raids net five rocket launchers Raids on the homes and other properties used by members of motorbike gangs in the south of the country netted five rocket launchers, the public prosecution department told a news conference on Wednesday. In total 20 people, 19 men and one woman, were arrested in a cross border campaign to tackle motorbike gang crime. Some 400 police and other officials in Limburg, Belgium and Germany carried out raids on 30 locations, looking for weapons and drugs. Police also seized a number of automatic weapons, forged money, guns, firework 'bombs', an ecstasy laboratory and marijuana plantation. [banner]   Among those taken from their homes in the early hours of the morning were the leader and deputy leader of the Limburg branch of biker gang Bandidos. There have been several incidents of gang-related violence since the Bandidos settled in Limburg in 2014, Nos says. All 20 people arrested, many of whom have lengthy criminal records, will appear in court on Friday, the public prosecutor said. Justice minister Ard van der Steur visited the region last weekend and said he was looking into the legal option of banning motorbike gangs altogether.  More >

Dutch FA welcomes Swiss Fifa arrests

Motorbike gang raids net five rocket launchers The Dutch football association KNVB on Wednesday welcomed the anti-corruption probe at world football body Fifa, which led to the arrest of seven senior officials earlier in the day. However, the KNVB did not say if the arrests had any implications for the pending vote to elect a new president in several days time. Sepp Blatter, the current Fifa president, hopes to win a fifth term. KNVB spokesman Chris van Nijnatten told Nos radio Blatter is formally responsible for what the FBI has called the 'institutionalisation of corruption' within Fifa. [banner] 'However, Fifa insists he has clean hands. He was not arrested and can still do his job,' Nijnatten said. 'In a formal sense, this is correct, but you have to ask what others think about it. The KNVB considers the law should take its course.' KNVB chief Michael van Praag had been campaigning for the Fifa top job on a reform ticket. However, he stood down earlier this month to clear the way for Jordanian prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein who has gathered more support from member countries over the past few months, Van Praag has not commented on the arrests.  More >

Minister delays Terschelling gas decision

Motorbike gang raids net five rocket launchers Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said on Wednesday he will not decide if a new oil company can drill for oil and gas off the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling until next year. ‘We are first going to amend the mining law which will also increase the role of landscape and nature in the decision making process,’ Kamp said in a briefing. A majority of MPs oppose granting a licence to drill close to the island. They point out that not only is the Wadden Sea area unique and has Unesco world heritage status, but the entire island council has voted against the plan. Kamp said earlier he wanted to decide what to do about the Tulip Oil request before the summer. The gas field under the island was first identified 20 years ago. [banner]  More >

Royal palace renovation bill almost double

Dutch royal palace renovation bill almost doubles to €60m Renovating the royal family’s Huis ten Bosch palace is set to cost almost €60m, well over the original estimate of €35m, according to broadcaster RTL news. RTL bases its claims on sources close to the cabinet. King Willem-Alexander and his family will eventually move to the palace when the work has been completed in 2018. It is the first time substantial work has been carried out on the building since 1981. [banner] When the figure was first announced last year, prime minister Mark Rutte said he understood €35m is a lot of money but that it is a ‘normal’ price for renovating a 17th century villa. MPs are now demanding the government explain the overspend. ‘€35m was ridiculous and this is doubly ridiculous,’ Socialist MP Ronald van Raak told news agency ANP.  More >