Wilders joins far-right parties in attack on EU, Islam and the press

Wilders joins far-right parties in attack on EU, Islam and the press

PVV leader Geert Wilders joined French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen and several other populist party leaders in what the Guardian described as an 'unprecedented' meeting of European right-wing groups in Koblenz, Germany on Saturday. Wilders, who currently leads in several opinion polls ahead of the March 15 general election, told his audience of several hundred: ‘Yesterday a free America, today Koblenz, and tomorrow a new Europe’. Wilders was the second speaker behind Le Pen and was introduced as ‘the man who has given up his own freedom.’ 'Ordinary people are afraid to speak their minds,' Wilders said, to cheers from his audience. 'Women are afraid. Women with blonde hair are afraid to let it be seen.' The Guardian said the loudest applause came when Wilders told his audience: ‘Europe needs [AfD leader] Frauke, not Angela.’ The meeting was organised by Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, under the slogan ‘Freedom for Europe’. However, when Wilders later described himself as a 'friend of Israel', 'the silence was deafening,' the Volkskrant said. As well as Le Pen and Petry, the meeting was attended by members of Italy’s Northern League, Belgium’s Vlaams Blok and Austria’s FPÖ. All the parties are members of the 'Europe of Nations and Freedoms alliance' in the European parliament. Some Germany journalists were banned by the organisers from reporting on the meeting because they had ‘failed to meet journalistic standards in past reporting’, the Guardian said.  More >

No role for Dutch courts in EPO row

Wilders joins far-right parties in attack on EU, Islam and the press The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Dutch courts cannot intervene in problems at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk because the organisation enjoys immunity as an international organisation. The patent office approves patents for all 38 countries which are members and has a workforce of 7,000 spread between the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium. Staff union Suepo, which claims to represent around half the workforce but has not been officially recognised, has been embroiled in a long-running battle with patent office president Benoit Battistelli. Last year, three officials were sacked and three others downgraded and the union has repeatedly criticised Battistelli's authoritarian management style, the NRC reported. Right to strike At the beginning of 2015, The Hague appeal court ruled that the patent office could not limit the right to strike and block emails from union officials and said the union should be recognised. The patent office appealed to the Supreme Court, with the support of the Dutch state, which has now found in its favour. The court said staff at the bureau are properly protected by internal procedures and can also appeal to the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the NRC before today's ruling that the only option now open is to sue the Dutch state. 'Union rights are being infringed on Dutch soil,' she said. 'Has the state done enough to prevent this? The answer is no.'  More >

Dutch want refugee detention rule reform

Wilders joins far-right parties in attack on EU, Islam and the press The Netherlands is to press Brussels for changes in the rules which prevent member states from detaining rejected asylum seekers in secure accommodation, the Telegraaf said on Friday. The paper quotes junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff as saying that rejected asylum seekers often take off when their deportation date nears. They either move to another EU country or become part of the illegal circuit, he said. To prevent this, the Netherlands is keen to place them in secure accommodation but this is often impossible because of European rules. ‘We have a lot of problems with this,’ he said. Judges will only agree to detention in very rare cases. ‘You almost have to prove that someone has done it before to prove that there is a risk they will take off,’ he said. The Netherlands is now going bring the problem to the attention of Brussels in the hope this is tackled quickly, he said. Despite calls from left-wing MPs to take more refugees from Greece because of the cold weather, the minister said he had no plans to do so. The Netherlands already does more than other countries and ‘there comes a time where I am not going to take on more responsibility than others,’ he told MPs on Thursday. It is Greece’s responsibility to make sure it’s accommodation is up to scratch and it has not done so, he said.  More >

Dutch PM criticises Brexit migration plan

Dutch PM says Britain will pay the price of Brexit migration curbs Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte says Britain will pay a 'huge price' for its decision to make controlling immigration a top priority during the Brexit talks. Speaking during a panel session at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Rutte said the speech by British prime minister Theresa May showed she had become realistic but that her decision would have a huge impact on the country's economic growth rate. 'If they want to have full control over the flow of migration, they cannot remain in the European market,' he told the NRC in an interview later.  'It would be in the Netherlands interest if the EU is united on this against the British. And up to now, I note that all my European colleagues back this position.' He admitted that the Netherlands, has one of Britain's main trading partners, has a lot to lose with a hard Brexit. While the different interests of the EU members could make the negotiations more complex, Rutte said he thought EU member states would 'speak with one voice'. Rutte said he had been talking to many 'companies and banks' about the impact of Brexit. 'They are now in England but they want to remain active in Europe,' he said. Rutte also said that economic reforms in southern Europe remain one of the greatest challenges to the EU. 'France and Italy have to reform. If they don't it will have a destructive impact on European integration,' he said. Spain, he said, was doing great things. 'But the other countries are lagging behind so that we cannot make the promise of the EU and euro come true.' Dijsselbloem Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also in Davos, was critical of May's isolationist approach, the NRC said. 'Let us talk again in 20 years, when England will be back where it was in the 1970s,' the paper quoted him as saying. 'It will be antiquated, run down. To me, that is not the right model for the future of England.' Rutte and Schultz take gloves off in front of Davos Elite  More >

Dutch welcome Britain's Brexit 'outline'

Wilders joins far-right parties in attack on EU, Islam and the press Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders has welcomed Tuesday's speech by British prime minister Theresa May in which she gave more details of her approach to negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the EU. 'We welcome the outline #Brexit,' Koenders said on Twitter. 'NL wants a constructive relationship between the EU and UK.' The other 27 EU countries are ready to negotiate once notification has taken place, Koenders said. May has said that will happen by the end of March. However, Dutch business associations on Wednesday warned about the consequences of a hard Brexit on Dutch industry. In a joint statement, they said they ‘regretted’ May's decision to make a radical break with the EU. ‘If you leave the internal market and the customs union in its current form, we are talking about a hard Brexit, the VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland said in a statement. A British withdrawal from the EU will cost the Dutch economy €10bn in lost income by 2030, according to calculations by the government’s macro-economic think tank CPB. The drop in trade with Britain will mount up to 1.2% of GDP within the next 15 years, the CPB said last summer. The impact of a Brexit on the Netherlands will be larger than in many other countries because of the close trading links.  More >