Dutch embassies heavily understaffed, says government advisor

Dutch embassies heavily understaffed, says government advisor

An extra €70m to €80m a year needs to be spent to bring Dutch embassies up to scratch, the government advisory board for international affairs AIV said in a new report. The report said increasing global dangers make the tasks of embassies wider and more complex but that there have been sharp cost reductions in the Dutch diplomatic corps in recent years. Staff levels have been cut by one-third compared to 20 years ago and interns are being assigned to posts formerly held by diplomats, the AIV claims. The assumption that physical presence is unnecessary with new developments in communications is false, the report says. Dutch companies abroad need help in opening doors, particularly in protectionist countries. Europe In particular, the AIV said a number of embassies which were closed recently in Africa and South America need to be reopened. And priority should go to countries on the eastern and southern flanks of Europe. 'We are understaffed in cities that are very important for the Netherlands. In Ukraine, Sweden, the Baltic States - all posts that are important for our relations with Russia – the staffing is minimal,' report co-compiler Fred van Staten told the NRC. In addition, more preliminary talks about EU matters take place away from EU official circuits in Brussels,' he said. 'If you want to make a mark in Brussels, you must be able to find as many allies as possible in the capitals. Then you must have well-staffed embassies there.'  More >

Dutch senators to back Ukraine treaty

Dutch embassies heavily understaffed, says government advisor The Dutch senate is set to vote in favour of the controversial EU treaty with Ukraine on Tuesday thanks to the support of the CDA, the Volkskrant said. Christian Democrat senators have a 'positive attitude,' Elco Brinkman, the party's leader in the senate, told the paper.  CDA MPs voted against the treaty when it was voted through by the lower house in February but the support of CDA senators is seen as crucial to have the treaty approved. Over 60% of Dutch voters who took part in last year's referendum on the treaty voted against it. Even though the referendum was advisory, most MPs said the decision had to be respected. However, in December, prime minister Mark Rutte won the support of the 27 other European leaders for a supplementary declaration to the Ukraine treaty which makes it clear what the agreement actually entails. Rutte has said that if the Netherlands fails to ratify the treaty, it could have serious implications for the stability of Europe.  More >

Brexit banks shun Amsterdam due to bonuses

Dutch embassies heavily understaffed, says government advisor Amsterdam has little chance of attracting foreign financial institutions which are leaving London for the continent ahead of Brexit because of the rigid cap on bonuses in the Netherlands, according to the Financieele Dagblad on Monday. The paper says banks abandoning London because of Britain's impending departure from the EU fear they will lose talent to the competition because of the bonus cap and the prevailing attitude in the Netherlands that bankers are 'greedy'. 'This is to be expected,' said Amsterdam alderman for economic affairs Kajsa Ollongren. 'The Netherlands caps bonuses to 20% of base salary while most other EU countries limits it to 100% of annual pay. If that's the reason Brexit banks stay away from Amsterdam then we must accept it.' Two weeks ago US investment bank JPMorgan Chase announced it was moving its European headquarters to Frankfurt, saying the bonus cap was an important reason not to consider Amsterdam. British bank Standard Chartered and the Japanese bank Nomura are also relocating their European headquarters to the German financial centre. HSBC opted for Paris, while Bank of America is opening an office in Dublin. Last year, 157 companies opened an office in Amsterdam, with a combined workforce of 3,312.  More >

Dutch entry OG3NE in to Eurovision final

Dutch entry OG3NE makes it to Eurovision final The Netherlands' entry for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest made it through to the event final on Saturday after winning a place in Thursday's heat. OG3NE – pronounced ohjean – is made up of sisters Lisa, Amy and Shelley, who are known for their close harmonies. Their father co-wrote the song Lights and Shadows, which is an ode to their seriously ill mother. The girls won the Voice of Holland talent show in 2014 after previously representing the Netherlands in the Junior Song Festival 10 years ago.   More >

Dutch MPs clash with EU bank president

Dutch MPs clash with EU bank president Mario Draghi over policies, euro European central bank president Mario Draghi was given a rough ride by Dutch MPs on Wednesday as he appeared before the parliament's finance committee. Dutch MPs have become increasingly critical of the central bank's policies and according to the Financial Times, the 'rare public grilling' rattled Draghi as he defended unpopular policies and answered questions about the euro and measures to revive the eurozone economy. Asked about the possibility of the Netherlands leaving the euro by eurosceptic MP Thierry Baudet, Draghi said: 'The euro is irrevocable. This is the treaty. I will not speculate on something that has no basis.' The central bank's policies had helped create 4.5 million jobs, Draghi said. Draghi went on to admit that Dutch pension funds have been affected by the low interest rates. Nevertheless, he said, pension funds portfolios are increasing in value because of the policies, he pointed out. More on this  More >