Dutch MPs call for national laws to have priority over TTIP trade treaty

Dutch MPs call for national laws to have priority over TTIP trade treaty

The Dutch parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion stating a new trade treaty between the US and Europe should not disadvantage the Dutch legal system and Dutch democracy. The TTIP is a new free trade agreement which supporters say will boost prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. However, its detractors claim Europe will lose control over product safety and workers rights and that it will give big business free play to challenge government policies. One section of the treaty allows a company to make a legal claims against a country if it considers its interests are being damaged. This could include being refused permission to sell products or being forced to comply with environmental legislation. [banner] The Dutch cabinet supports the TTIP in principle but trade minister Lilian Ploumen is trying to ensure it is amended in places, broadcaster Nos reports. The motion states that the Dutch values ‘such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equal rights and the protection of the environment and human rights must remain guaranteed’. The TTIP may not include any ‘dispute settlements which are detrimental to our national legal system and our democratic decision-making process’, the motion said. The motion was supported by parties from across the political spectrum, except the ruling VVD.  More >

Row over ABN Amro pay and ethics continues

Dutch MPs call for national laws to have priority over TTIP trade treaty The fall-out from last week’s ABN Amro pay rise row continued on Tuesday after broadcaster Nos said a majority of MPs think the bank’s IPO should be delayed for some time. ‘No one will want to invest in ABN Amro without having the lowdown on all the problems,’ Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omzigt said. Only once finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has come clean will an IPO be an option, he said. According to the NRC, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem actually approved the controversial pay rise for the board in March 2014. Last week, Dijsselbloem was at the forefront of criticism of six ABN Amro board members for accepting a €100,000 pay rise. [banner] Dijsselbloem also said he was delaying the IPO to allow calm to return. Two days later, the board said its members had decided not to accept rise because of the angry reactions. Approval The NRC quotes a letter in which ABN Amro chief executive Gerrit Zalm summarises a discussion between himself and Dijsselbloem, in which the minister pledges to defend the pay rise. The board members have had a right to the rise since 2012 but passed for the first two years. Integrity The Financieele Dagblad reports on Tuesday that the central bank has expressed concerns about a lack of awareness in the boardroom about the other jobs done by its supervisory board members and about their private interests. In addition, the bank has not yet implemented new rules aimed at eradicating any potential conflict of interest involving senior bankers and managers, the paper says. The information comes from a confidential letter sent by the central bank to Zalm. In the letter, the bank says ABN Amro’s anti-corruption strategy is ‘insufficient’. ABN Amro said on Tuesday the letter is based on outdated information.  More >

Spring storm disrupts public transport

Dutch MPs call for national laws to have priority over TTIP trade treaty Storm force winds caused many problems for motorists on Tuesday and train services were disrupted in some places as trees fell onto tracks. The KNMI weather bureau raised its weather warning to code orange for the north of the country as the wind reached speeds of up to 120 kph on the Wadden Sea islands. Lorries blew over on several roads, causing long delays and closures. In particular there were problems on the A50 near Apeldoorn and on the A27, the ANWB motoring organisation said. [banner] The Houtrib dyke between Lelystad and Enkhuizen has been closed because of the strong winds which have whipped water from the Ijsselmeer lake over the road, leaving debris behind. At Schiphol airport, some 80 flights have been cancelled and others are facing delays. The west to north-westerly gales are making it difficult for some aircraft to land. Passengers are being advised to contact their airline for information. Trains Train services have also been disrupted. Intercity services have been cancelled between Rotterdam and Breda. Other services, in particular between Utrecht and Hilversum and around Zwolle, face delays because trees have blown onto the tracks. The NS is also warning passengers not to travel to Germany by train because of the storm, which has reached hurricane force in places. A container ship was blown off course in the Westerschelde estuary but was eventually righted in the late morning. The infrastructure ministry has closed the sluices at Krimpen aan den IJssel because of the high water. The dykes have also been closed around the northern Groningen port of Delfzijl.    More >

Anne Frank died in February not March

Dutch MPs call for national laws to have priority over TTIP trade treaty Anne Frank did not die on March 31 1945 as always assumed, but one month earlier in February, according to new research by the Anne Frank Foundation. The Anne Frank Foundation has studied various archives and relevant witness statements and concluded that Anne and her sister Margot died in early February of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. The foundation  runs the Prinsengracht centre in Amsterdam in the house where the Frank family hid from the Nazis. The last time a camp survivor saw Anne was sometime before February 7. She met Anne in the camp and gave her a food parcel organised by Auguste van Pels, who had shared Anne's hiding place in Amsterdam. Van Pels was transported to another work camp on February 7, the foundation discovered. In addition, several others who knew Anne and Margot and who were transported with Van Pels said they had noticed the signs of typhus in the two girls. The foundation says the chances that the girls lived until March with this disease are slim. According to the public health institute RIVM most victims die 12 days after the first signs appear. And because they were in a weakened state when they reached Bergen-Belsen they would have died some time in February. Watch the video  More >

Dutch king returns plundered WWII painting

Dutch king returns plundered WWII painting to rightful heirs King Willem-Alexander is returning a painting bought by his grandmother after World War II to its rightful heirs. The painting, The Hague woods with a view on the Huis ten Bosch palace by 17th century artist Joris van der Haagen, was owned by a Jewish collector who was forced to give it up in 1942. The painting ended up in the hands of a Dutch art trader in 1960 and was sold to queen Juliana, who was unaware of its origins, according to research by royal family art historians. [banner] The German occupiers stole thousands of works of art from Jewish collectors during WWII and the king had asked experts to examine the royal collection and make sure no art of dubious origins is included. Although one other work is thought to have come from a Jewish collector, it was sold before the occupation and cannot be considered stolen art, the art historians said.  More >