It's official: March 30 is the warmest day of the year so far

It’s official: March 30 is the warmest day of the year so far

Thursday is the first official warm day of the year, with the temperature topping 20 degrees at the De Bilt weather station near Hilversum, weather forecasters said. The temperature had already topped 20 degrees in Eindhoven earlier this week, but the temperature must be recorded in De Bilt to be official. On Thursday, the temperature in the Eindhoven region reached almost 22 degrees. Last year, the first official warm day fell on April 3 and in 2015 on April 10. The normal temperature for this time of year is around 11 degrees. Friday will also be warm with sunny spells, but there may be some rain in the evening, which will bring temperatures down again for the weekend.   More >

Unions, employers lobby coalition talks

50Plus With the coalition formation talks set to really get going next week, unions, employers and interest groups are coming up with a string of policy measures they would like to see adopted by the new government. Central bank president Klaas Knot said on Thursday that the new administration should not be too generous with giving away cash. 'There is no need to make further cuts, and that is the good news,' he said. 'But there is no room for major expenditure either.' Speaking at the presentation of the central bank's annual report, Knot said that the new cabinet should target a budget surplus of 1% in onder to ensure the government's finances are robust in the long term. At the same time, the cabinet should invest, making sure that the Netherlands is sustainable in terms of environmental and social policy. In particular, there needs to be legislation focusing on the climate to bring clarity, he said. 'Prosperity that generates major environmental damage, which pressures social relationships or is based on financial bubbles, is not sustainable in the long term,' Knot said. Redundancy law Meanwhile, unions have been quick to condemn calls from employers for changes to redundancy legislation, so it is easier to sack staff. 'The employers are trying to demolish workers' redundancy protection,' FNV spokeswoman Mariëtte Patijn told broadcaster NOS. 'We made a deal with employers a year ago. The ink has barely dried and they want to reduce the provisions even further. No way.' Senior civil servants from all the government ministries have also written to Edith Schippers, who is leading the coalition negotiations, urging her to make sure that the coalition agreement is not too complicated. Putting policy proposals into practice is often more difficult that foreseen and this can create agreements which cannot be met, the civil servants say in Thursday's NRC.  More >

Dutch MPs shocked by tax office rulings

50Plus MPs, who had been clamouring in vain for details of tax deals made with multinational companies for several years, were shocked when revelations about these rulings were made public earlier this week, Trouw reported on Thursday. The memorandum by senior officials, detailed how the Dutch tax office adjusted rulings to suit the needs of the multinationals. It also shows that officials warned the government that many of the Dutch rulings were coming under the scrutiny of the EU and the OECD. A majority of MPs have asked junior finance minister Eric Wiebes for clarity about the rulings, Trouw said. Socialist party SP's Renske Leijten has called for a debate, claiming the Netherlands rolls out the red carpet for companies wanting to avoid tax. The Labour party PvdA said the international reputation of the Netherlands is at stake. But the Financieele Dagblad feels the tax office has opened a can of worms as details of its tax rulings with multinational companies emerge. The tax office's rulings with multinationals are certain to increase tensions abroad when they are disclosed because other countries may have lost tax revenues because of the Dutch 'deals', the FD said.  More >

Rare Roman find in Tiel

Rich Roman haul surprises Dutch archaeologists Archeologists digging at a site in Tiel in the province of Gelderland, have found a rich haul of Roman artefacts, among which a statue of the god Jupiter, a grave stone inscribed DEAE (to the goddess), 2,500 bronze objects and a unique ointment pot. The dig is one of a number of archaeological activities taking place on an 80 hectare site which is projected to become part of the adjacent Medel industrial estate. As with any major construction work, archaeologists are invited to investigate what is in the ground before any building is done. The area has yielded treasure before. In November last year archaeologists found numerous artefacts dating back some 6,000 years, and a Roman funerary urn with a small glass bottle inside it. That in itself is not surprising, archaeologist Jan van der Velde told broadcaster NOS. In the four centuries the Romans dominated Western Europe, Gelderland was part of a border province of the Roman empire. The surprise is that the find includes such valuable and sophisticated objects when the area was lived in mainly by Batavian farmers in simple wood and mud houses. ‘A statue like this, or the ointment pot, would not be out of place in a rich Roman city like Nijmegen, and even there they would be pretty rare. This tells us more about the Batavians and how they developed. Perhaps a number of them were more Romanised then we thought,’ Van der Velde told the broadcaster. Villa or temple Van der Velde has two theories. ‘The owner of the artefacts could have been an important Batavian who wanted to recreate a piece of Rome in his villa by surrounding himself with expensive and rare objects. But perhaps we have stumbled on a temple. Almost all the bronze objects were found in a square of 20 by 50 metres, so it may well have been a sacrificial site.’ The dig will have to shut down for the next few months to give the present-day farmer a chance to sow and reap his harvest. Van der Velde will then try to discover a floor plan so he can determine the presence of a villa or temple. Van der Velde says the foundations of any building should be left in the ground. 'Whatever is dug up is gone. We have seen a lot of destruction lately with the construction of roads and industrial estates. The same thing may happen here. But if we know what exactly we are dealing with here it could help Tiel city council make a decision about building a new industrial estate,’ NOS quotes him as saying.  More >

Children's drawings become simpler

50Plus The drawings produced by children have become much simpler over the past 20 years, according to research by the Dutch school inspectorate. Today’s 11 and 12-year-olds include fewer details and their pictures are more likely to consist of separate objects than an integrated whole, broadcaster RTL said on Thursday. Overall the standard of drawing has gone down, the inspectors say. School inspectors say they consider the change to reflect social developments, such as digitalization. At the same time, there are fewer specialist art teachers and art is not considered a priority at teacher training colleges, RTL pointed out. ‘Education today requires a broader approach to art and creativity,’ Rafael van Crimpen, head of the Breitner Academie in Amsterdam, told RTL. ‘Children draw better if they have more time for it. Education is changing with the times and that is reflected in their drawings. And of course, digitalization plays a part.’  More >