Dutch prime minister begins campaign to freeze EU contributions

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is meeting other EU leaders in Brussels this weekend to discuss the community's long-term budget, among other issues. Rutte has said he does not want the Dutch contribution to the EU to increase, despite the European Commission's call for higher spending on climate change and border controls, and the gap left by Britain after Brexit. Like the Netherlands, Britain is a net payer into the EU's coffers and will leave a large hole when it pulls out. The Commission wants to fill the gap through a combination of spending cuts and higher contributions, something which the Dutch strongly oppose. Despite Rutte's call for no extra spending, experts say increased contributions from the Netherlands will be unavoidable. 'It is very simple. Britain is leaving and that will leave a big whole in the budget,' Rob Boudewijn of consultancy European Affairs told the FD. 'That gap has to be filled and of course we are going to have to pay more.' Rutte told reporters on Friday morning he will 'do his best' to make sure the Dutch bill does not become bigger. Denmark, Finland and Sweden, and possibly Austria, are known to support the Dutch position on keeping Brussels budget in check.   More >

Dutch 'not worried' about EMA decision

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information A delegation of MEPs and Italian journalists were in Amsterdam on Thursday to check out progress on the future European Medicines Agency offices. The Netherlands won the right to host the agency when it leaves London after Brexit next year in a close run competition with Milan, eventually settled by drawing lots. But Italian MPs, buoyed by the pending Italian national elections, have been quick to make political capital out of the fact that the Dutch office for the EMA won’t be completed until November next year and that the organisation will first have to move to temporary accommodation. Dutch officials, including health minister Hugo De Jonge, were on hand to brief the visitors and answer questions. ‘The Netherlands pulled out all the stops to show that the Italian MEPs’ concerns were being treated seriously,’ the Financieele Dagblad said. The European parliament will vote on the issue in the middle of March in what is seen as a formality, although Italian MEPs are now campaigning for a no vote. ‘Is the Netherlands worried that it could still lose the EMA to Italy? “Not really”, was the not very convincing reply of deputy prime minister Hugo de Jonge at the end of the afternoon,' the FD said. Italy has also taken the issue to the European Court of Justice, accusing the Netherlands of cheating by not making it clear that the agency would have to move twice.  More >

EU challenged over disinformation claims

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information Three Dutch media companies are taking the European Commission to court for branding them spreaders of fake news. Shock blog GeenStijl, populist website The Post Online and De Persgroep want the Commission's anti-disinformation task force to rectify claims that they spread fake news, or face a fine of €20,000 a day. EU vs Disinfo is part of the EU's external action service East Stratcom Task Force, which falls under the responsibility of foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and was set up to challenge Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns in March 2015. After their initial legal protests, GeenStijl and The Post Online are no longer listed on the website as distributors of fake news but are demanding a formal rectification. Persgroep paper De Gelderlander is included on the website for an article about the Buk rocket used to bring down flight MH17. The case will be heard in Amsterdam on March 14.  More >

Dutch appoint EU pulse fishing lobbyist

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information The government has appointed former minister of agriculture Cees Veerman to try to head off the introduction of a ban on pulse fishing, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday. Farm minister Carola Schouten had asked parliament to nominate a candidate to push for change over pulse fishing after the European Parliament voted for a total ban in January. Opponents of the system say it is a cruel and unnecessary method of fishing. It involves sending a current of electricity through sections of the sea bed, partially stunning sole and plaice and forcing some into the net. Its supporters, however, say pulse fishing is less destructive than beam trawling, which involves dragging a heavy metal bar across the sea bed. Dutch fishermen have invested millions of euros in specialized equipment since the ban on pulse fishing was lifted several years ago under a scheme to allow ‘innovative methods’ in the name of research. The Netherlands has at least 84 pulse fishing vessels – more than any other EU country. France in particular is opposed to pulse fishing and had campaigned for change. The European negotiations on a total ban on pulse fishing will start in March.  More >

Dutch MPs recognise Armenian genocide

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information The Dutch parliament is poised to explicitly recognize the murder of 1.5 million Christian Armenian citizens by the Ottoman empire as genocide after a long campaign by ChristenUnie MP Joel Voordewind. There is also majority support in parliament to send a Dutch minister to the commemoration of the Armenian genocide in Jerevan in April, Dutch media said on Friday. Voordewind is expected to submit a motion on the issue to parliament next week, but is already guaranteed the support of a majority of MPs, now the coalition has thrown its weight behind the plan. Experts say that the decision will further anger Turkey, which already has a fraught relationship with the Netherlands. The Netherlands recently withdraw its ambassador to Turkey and the relationship between the two countries has been strained since the Dutch banned two Turkish ministers from campaigning on Dutch soil for a referendum to give greater powers to president Erdogan. ‘We must not deny history for fear of sanctions. Our country is home to the capital of international law, so we must not be scared of doing what is right in this matter,’ Voordewind told Trouw. ‘We are acknowledging history. That is not the same thing as casting aspersions as Turkey has done towards the Netherlands.’ The Dutch government currently refers to the issue as 'the question of Armenian genocide' and will continue to do so, RTL said.  More >