Dutch philanthropists take lead in 'sustainable' integration policy

Dutch watchdog warns about investing via digital currencies

A private social investment and philanthropic foundation made up of wealthy business people is going to invest hundreds of millions of euros in social policy, much of which will focus on the integration of refugees, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday. The Maatschappelijk Alliantie (Major Alliance), which represents some 250 business and family investment funds, thinks the integration of migrants is not happening quickly enough and wants to meet all ministers involved to set up programmes for training, integration, housing and employment. It's aim, according to the website, is 'building a better society by bringing together, funds, companies and the government to increase the impact of social initiatives.' The funds are worth some €90bn between them, the FD says. Members are the ‘nouveaux riches’ who became multimillionaires by selling their internet businesses but the Alliance also includes ‘old money’ from family businesses such as Zeeman, C&A, Blokker, Dura and Vermeer. Out from the shadows It is the first time the funds, which usually operate in the background, are manifesting themselves this publicly. According to the FD they preferred to keep a low profile because, given the aggressive tone of the migration debate, calling for homes and jobs for migrants would not go down well with some groups. However, they now seem to have ‘emerged from the shadows,’ the paper writes. The foundation’s involvement in the public domain also means more support for services and facilities which have been left in the cold after the central government transferred many tasks to local councils. The initiative, which will be completely privately financed with the government in the role of facilitator, is not only a philanthropic one but will also entail impact investments, a small but fast-growing form of investment in which the returns, for instance from rent for housing for asylum seekers, are coupled to social policy and sustainability. The idea that philanthropy is not enough but that the funds must be linked to returns and sustainability has come in with a new generation of fund administrators, the FD writes.  More >

One third of packaging can't be recycled

Dutch watchdog warns about investing via digital currencies About one third of the packaging used in the Netherlands is difficult to recycle and is often contaminated with pvc, even though this has been banned because of the environmental risk, according to researchers at Wageningen University. The continued use of pvc in packaging is one reason why the government decided in 2015 not to scrap the deposit system on plastic bottles after all, despite years of campaigning by the industry and supermarkets. The research was carried out on behalf of the Dutch waste processors and management association NVRD. NVRD chairman Han Noten said in a statement that manufacturers must do more to ensure the packaging they use can be recycled.  'This report shows there is plenty of room for improvement,' he said. 'Contaminants put in at the beginning of the process have to be removed at the end, and that has not changed.'   More >

Bird flu outbreak hits poultry farmers

Dutch watchdog warns about investing via digital currencies Dutch poultry farmers were told on Friday to keep their birds indoors following the discovery of a highly infectious variant of bird flu on a duck farm in Biddinghuizen in Flevoland. Zoos and city farms have also been told to make sure their birds do not come into contact with wild birds, which spread the disease via their droppings. The 16,000 ducks on the effected farm are being destroyed and a ban on the movement of poultry, eggs and manure has been imposed on a 10 kilometre radius around the farm. The Dutch food and product safety board has also asked water boards nationwide to alert them if they find dead birds on the country's lakes and waterways. Factory firms were also required to keep poultry indoors between last November and mid April because of an earlier bird flu outbreak.  More >

New bank rules will impact mortgage system

Dutch watchdog warns about investing via digital currencies New capital requirements for banks, known as Basel 4, will have a major impact on the Dutch financial services sector, Dutch media said on Friday. The European central bank declared on Thursday that agreement had been reached reviewing the post crisis Basel 3 regulations. Basel 3 required the banks to add equity to their balance sheets and Basel 4, as the revisions are know, will further add to the requirements. According to the Dutch central bank in the Financieele Dagblad, the Dutch banks are a combined  €14bn short of meeting the new capital requirements. That means banks will be more restricted in what they can do and what risks they are prepared to take. 'It will have a major impact,’ central bank official Paul Hilbers, one of the two Dutch negotiators, told the FD ‘You have to compare it with the average combined annual profits of €6bn posted by all the large banks in the last few years.’ Rabobank chief financial officer Bas Brouwers is quoted as describing the new rules as 'absurd and irrational' by the Volkskrant. Mortgages In particular, Basel 4 is likely to have an impact on the Dutch mortgage system by reducing the amount people can borrow - the loan to value ratio - because banks will have to further minimise their risks. The ltv Dutch rate, now 100%, is one of the most generous in Europe. However, as the new rules won't come into effect until 2020, and will be phased in over five years, the impact is likely to be muted, the Volkskrant said. Nevertheless, from January, home buyers will only be able to borrow up to 100% of the value of their home, but the Dutch market regulators - the central bank and AFM - want this to be reduced to 90%, further reducing the risk to banks. Such a change, which is politically highly sensitive, would require first time buyers to bring in some €25,000 in cash to buy a home, the paper said.  More >

Lelystad airport plans under fire

Dutch watchdog warns about investing via digital currencies Airlines are furious about a transport ministry proposal which would force them to move flights to 89 destinations, mainly in southern Europe, to Lelystad airport when it opens to charter flights in two years time. The plan was closed to consultation on Wednesday and the reception has been highly critical, the NRC said. 'It shall be prohibited to airlines to start a flight from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to destinations which are designated by ministerial regulation as leisure destinations,' the consultation papers say in English. 'Criteria for the designation of leisure destinations will be determined by ministerial regulation.' The Schiphol ban would apply to destinations which are not capital cities and which lie between 700 and 4,000 kilometres from Schiphol. It includes all Greek, Portuguese and Croatian destinations apart from Athens, Lisbon and Zagreb as well as many cities in Turkey, Spain and Morocco. The government argues that keeping Schiphol's international network is crucial and that by moving holiday traffic, it will be able to grow within current noise restrictions. ' Discrimination Easyjet, the second biggest airline at Schiphol, says the new proposal is discriminatory and favours KLM. For example, Belfast International Airport, where KLM flies, is not affected but Belfast City Airport is on the banned list. Dutch travel firm lobby group ANVR said in its reaction: 'So Dutch travellers who are going on a family visit to Spain will have to give way to travellers from Bangalore who are on their way to visit family in Denmark via Schiphol.' Transit passengers also add little to the Dutch economy, the organisation said. The proposal will have to be approved by the European Commission before it can become law. One key criteria for Brussels is the availability of good public transport between the two airports, the NRC said. Lelystad airport is hard to reach by public transport and there are no plans to give it a train station.  More >