Next cabine should avoid a spending spree

Despite economic growth, the next cabinet should avoid a spending spree The Dutch economy may be on the up - with growth set to hit 3.3% this year - but the next Dutch government should not be planning a spending spree, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The latest macro-economic figures from national statistics office CBS and independent research institute CPB show that the Dutch economy is doing well and all the signs are right for an even brighter future ahead. The political opponents of Mark Rutte’s cabinet claim that this is largely the result of an international upturn and that the VVD-Labour coalition policies have been detrimental rather than positive. But although it is true that world trade developments, the low euro rate and depressed oil prices have helped Rutte, economists as well as international think tanks believe his policies have been instrumental in getting the country back on top. Bad way When the cabinet started out in 2012, the Netherlands was in a bad way. The economy was shrinking, unemployment...  More >


Decoding the Dutch national anthem

Decoding the history and mysteries of the Dutch national anthem Suggestions that the next government might make lessons about the Wilhelmus part of the Dutch school curriculum led to raised eyebrows and considerable criticism earlier this month. But then, as Ryan Walmsley reports, the world’s oldest national anthem is steeped in heritage, myths and misunderstandings. It’s the 1570s. Spain is in the midst of a golden age after conquering the mighty Incan and Aztec empires. Silver, gold and other treasures from the New World are flowing into the Spanish Hapsburg’s coffers through newly-opened oceanic trade routes. King Phillip II rules over a formidable and extensive global empire. But for Spanish interests in continental Europe, things are starting to unravel. Religious unrest, brewing in the Netherlands since 1566, led a famous nobleman named William of Orange to lead a revolt opposing the unbridled persecution of Calvinists and the inefficiencies of some Spanish governors. Against this background, and in ode to their leader, the world’s...  More >


Silly suits, students, a new academic year

Silly suits and students – get ready for the new academic year If you see gangs of girls in pink outfits or young men in ties and smart suits... they are probably part of a university initiation ritual. Yes. It is that time again - the new academic year is about to start. Here are some facts and figures about Dutch higher education. 1 Aspiring students in the Netherlands have a choice of 13 universities. Alternatively, they can elect to go to a ‘Hogeschool’ or ‘HBO instelling’ which in English translation magically transforms into a university as well, albeit a University of Applied Sciences. 2 The terms Universiteit and Hogeschool are in the process of becoming protected, as they are in other European countries: The Johan Cruyff University has already changed its name to the Johan Cruyff Academy, for instance. Institutes calling themselves ‘university’ or ‘university of applied science’ and which do not adhere to the conditions can face a fine of over €800,000. Ok, the ‘academy of life’ it is then. 3 Universities...  More >


Podcast: The Summer of Chicks Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Summer of Chicks Edition – Week 33 After a five-week summer break the podcast returns with news of the great summer egg scandal, the creeping progress of the coalition talks and a string of sporting successes for one half of the country. Plus the estate agent who stirred up a storm of protest on social media and the filmmaker who proved once and for all that nothing is sacred in Dutch law. Top story: Fipronil egg scandal MPs return home from holiday early to discuss contaminated egg scandal News Coalition talks continue despite leak outrage Woman taken hostage at Hilversum's Mediapark Rental agency demands tenants cook 'the western way' Sport Dutch women become European champions Daphne Schippers retains world 200m title (Volkskrant, Dutch) Men's water polo team photo causes a stir in Taiwan Discussion: other stories you may have missed Making porn films in church is not illegal – official Giant bike park opens in Utrecht Amsterdam switches to gender-neutral correspondence Trump...  More >


While you were away: catch up on the news

While you were away: news and features not to be missed So you are back from holiday and wondering what has being going on since you were away. Here's our collection of the most interesting news stories about the Netherlands over the summer - from both DutchNews.nl and the international press. It is one of the contentious subjects being discussed in the current cabinet formation talks: is the Netherlands going to change its euthanasia law to allow people who consider their life to be complete a way out by means of assisted suicide or does the law already hold that possibility? In June elderly couple Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both struggling with serious health issues, were helped by their doctor to end their lives. The Daily Mail carried a feature. It hasn’t been a great year for factory farming in the Netherlands (but then the year before wasn’t too wonderful either). So far this year, some 225,000 animals, mostly pigs and chickens, have been killed in fires due to faulty wiring and a lack of safety measures. As if that wasn't...  More >


Dutch food with EU protection

Dutch food which has officially protected status within the EU You thought the Netherlands was all mashed potato dishes, cheese and herring when it comes to traditional food? But there are a fair few Dutch items on the EU's official lists - even if rather a lot are cheese. And just so you know what we are talking about,the EU logos PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) indicate region while TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) means the production process is as old as the hills. Hanneke Sannou has the the Dutch score. 1 Boeren-Leidse met sleutels (PDO). The sleutels, in case you are wondering are imprinted on the reddish rind of the cheese and refer to the keys of Saint Peter who is the patron saint of Leiden. The cheese, from the Leiden region and from the Leiden region only, is made from skimmed cow’s milk and therefore only has a 30% fat content. Available with or without cumin and said to go down very well with stewed rhubarb. 2 The Westlandse druif (PGI). This Dutch grape actually...  More >


'I'm baffled by being below sea level'

‘It baffles me that parts of the Netherlands are 6 metres below sea level’ British national Lucy Borne is celebrating her third year in Amsterdam this summer and says she has fallen completely in love with the city. A plant buff, Lucy currently works as global publicity and marketing manager at the post-production studio Smoke & Mirrors. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I ended up here completely by chance. I came on holiday with my boyfriend during the sun-soaked summer of 2014 and never looked back. I'd just finished a contract so I had no ties to the UK. Having very little knowledge of the city before visiting, Amsterdam completely stole my heart. I still to this day feel Amsterdam has a unique spirit. I luckily get to walk via the canals to work every day. Each day, still, this chocolate-box town stuns me. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? When asked where I’m from, my response is always the same: ‘I live in the Netherlands’. I'm very proud to live here but I was born in Britain. I don't think...  More >


11 things about Dutch women’s footie

Eleven things you need to know about Dutch women’s football With the Dutch women's team having won the European title for the first time in their history, here's a few key facts about female football in the Netherlands. 1 The first female team The first female team, the Oostzaanse Vrouwenvoetbal Vereeniging, emerged in 1924 but was soon side-lined by the Nederlandse Voetbalbond, the precursor of the KNVB, which was of the opinion that the role of women should be restricted to  that of ‘wife, mother or fiancée of football players’. 2 The national association In 1955 football-crazy women started their own league of 14 clubs while the KNVB pretended nothing was happening. More clubs joined who happily played each other in regional competitions. The number of female players had reached 5,500 by this time. It was not until 1971 that the KNVB finally admitted women’s football to the fold and 1973 before they played their first official international, losing 1-0 to England. 3 Over 150,000 players Last season the KNVB had 153,001...  More >


How to go Dutch: the final report

How to go Dutch: the final installment, as those crucial envelopes arrive Six years ago Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands with her husband, an academic, for a short-term project. Now she’s a divorcee, has fallen in love with a Dutch guy and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. Read the first, second, third and fourth parts of her series. I was working from home on the day the letter arrived. I heard the familiar ka-chink as the post was pushed through the mailbox. I got up from my desk and peered down the hallway. I had been checking the mail with increasing anxiety over the past few weeks. There was a letter, lying on top of the Makro coupons and health insurance bills. And it appeared as though that letter was from IND. I crept down the hall, as if otherwise I might startle the envelope and cause it to turn into a negative response. It took me some time to open it. Ironically, as I’m writing this now, I just met, for the first time, my reason for applying for permanent residency, face to face. Getting sick I...  More >


Why not ditch Dutch?

Dozens of languages disappear, so why not ditch Dutch as well? Dozens of languages disappear every year, and English is taking over, so why not bite the bullet and wave bye bye to Dutch? suggests Leiden University professor of Chinese Linguistics Rint Sybesma. The English language takeover of Dutch higher education is creating all sorts of problems. We only need to look at the latest report on the subject. It’s doing the quality of our education no favours at all. The linguistic abilities of both teachers and students are failing to come up to the mark while the highly educated who find themselves a job in the Netherlands (losers) are making a hash of their Dutch. What it boils down to is that Dutch is becoming a bit of a nuisance. It is more trouble than it’s worth. So why not solve all our problems and simply abolish it. Job It won’t happen from one day to the next but with a bit of effort we could manage the job in two to three generations. And with the numbers of people willing to take up the cause who’s going to stop us? It...  More >


Eleven great things to do in August

From pride to paper miracles: 11 great things to do in August Spending your summer at home and looking for some tips for great days out? Here's some suggestions. Be proud The main event in August is Gay Pride or Pride Amsterdam, as it now inclusively styles itself. There are activities galore, such as the Drag queen Olympics and Bear Necessity (for extremely hairy men) with the Canal Parade on August 5 as an exuberant highlight. Until August 6, Amsterdam. Website Find love in Sloterpark On August 12 Amsterdam's Sloterpark becomes Loveland. The line-up includes Tale of Us, Ferro, Sad Girl and many, many others. Website Party on the beach The Northsea Summer Festival in coastal resort Katwijk aan Zee is a great family day out which combines music, activities like golf and fitness clinics, a Lego building competition and much more. Free. From August 4 to 12, Katwijk. Website   Check out some paper miracles The CODA Paper Art 2017 exhibition demonstrates the wondrous things artists can do with paper. Take Kumi Yamashita from Japan,...  More >


Amsterdam Noord: a bridge too far?

As Amsterdam rediscovers its north, should it be a tunnel or a bridge? Amsterdam wants to build two bridges over the IJ to link the district of Noord to the rest of the city. But business interests and central government say a tunnel would be better for everyone, including cyclists. Amsterdam is separated from its northern flank by the river IJ and for those without a car, the only way to reach Amsterdam-Noord from the rest of the city is by passenger and bicycle ferry - unless you take a bus. But Amsterdam-Noord is suddenly in: the Eye film museum, the multi-purpose 'skyscraper' A'dam Toren (formerly Shell Research), restaurants, hotels, meeting facilities, clubs and new residential complexes add to its appeal. Access is a big problem and the ferries are jam-packed as larger numbers of people head to the newly trendy north or into the city. The new metro line will run between the north of the city and Amsterdam Zuid from 2018 and that should ease some of the burden for pedestrians. But what about cyclists? Two bridges A bridge or a tunnel...  More >


An uhealthy obsession with statistics

The Netherlands has an unhealthy obsession with statistics Rankings praising the Dutch health system abound in the media but what do the results really say about the Netherlands?, asks DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. If you read the Dutch press, it cannot have escaped your attention that not so long ago the Dutch health service was again ranked one of the best in the world. We foreigners may moan about over-inquisitive receptionists when visiting our family doctor and the fondness for paracetamol, but in terms of our health we are actually lucky to be living here. Yes, in May, the Netherlands came in ninth place in a ranking of almost 200 countries by The Lancet magazine. The ranking was compiled by looking at how likely you are to survive various nasty diseases, including tuberculosis, whooping cough and measles – 32 different ailments in total. Contrast this then, with a survey published in early 2015 by Sweden’s Health Consumer Powerhouse. It put the Dutch health service at the top of a ranking of 36 different European countries...  More >


Best Netherlands-based bloggers

Top blogs: From cartoon Englishmen to the best food in Amsterdam When you move to a new country, there’s nothing like getting some good information from people who have done it before. In the past, you’d have to venture out of your house and actually meet people to get that sort of knowledge. But now, anyone can share their insider tips on the internet for all to read. Molly Quell compiled a list of her favourite Netherlands-based bloggers Invader Stu Invader Stu is one of the most famous of all of the Netherlands-based bloggers. Nearly every international here has seen his iconic red-headed cartoons. You might even own an ‘I survived a Dutch Circle Party' tee shirt. Intending to apply for a job within bus distance of London, Stuart Billinghurst accidently found himself in Amsterdam nearly twenty years ago. Now the Englishman has a Dutch wife, two children and has moved to Friesland. His most famous post might be the Dutch Circle Party Guide, but I rather like the Hair Dye Incident. Amsterdam Foodie Don’t venture out for food in...  More >


Podcast: The We Apologise Edition

DutchNews podcast – The We Apologise for Everything Edition – Week 28 The final podcast before we take a well-earned summer break features sporting triumph and tragedy, why Bono held up the coalition talks and the school photo that sparked a nationwide debate. It was also the week when Tijn, the six-year-old boy who raised €2.5 million for charity by selling nail polish, and the mother of Eurovision trio OG3NE sadly lost their battles with cancer. Top story Coalition talks go nowhere slowly News School ordered to compensate Muslim pupils who missed class photo Senate passes law giving security service wider powers to trawl internet Cat missing for seven years adopted by parents of former owner Mother of Eurovision trio OG3NE dies of cancer Six-year-old boy who raised millions with nail polish campaign dies Sport Van der Breggen wins Giro Rosa for second time Dutch women's team change logo to lioness (Never Offside, Dutch) Ajax player suffers permanent brain damage after collapsing on pitch Discussion: We're...  More >


Dutch scientists who changed the world

Eight Dutch scientists who changed the world We'd suggest calling the following Dutch scientists 'clever clogs' if it wasn't so disrespectful. So we won't. But these eight theorists and inventors from the Netherlands made breakthroughs that shaped our modern world. Christiaan Huygens Christiaan Huygens (1629 -1695) was a mathematician, astronomer and physicist. Huygens formulated the wave theory of light, determined the shape of the rings of Saturn and contributed to the science of dynamics. Late in life he speculated about life on other planets, niftily sailing around the religious implications by saying that god, underestimating mankind’s scientific progress, had put the planets at such a distance from each other as to preclude any possibility of contact. Cornelis Drebbel Inventor Cornelis Drebbel (1572 – 1633) is credited with building the first working submarine. Drebbel was born in Alkmaar but moved to England in 1904. Some 20 years later he was asked by the English navy to design a boat which could move...  More >


Blogwatching: a good old language struggle

Blogwatching: Amsterdive – The good old language struggle Ana V. Martins is a Portuguese actress and a writer who lives in Amsterdam. Her blog, AmsterDive, is about her relationship with Amsterdam with a focus on arts and culture. In this post, she writes about a common problem among many internationals - losing her native language. Yesterday I was thinking of the downs of living 'abroad'. I must say I very rarely ask myself this question, but I know that this is a very relatable topic to most expats. If you are one, you might immediately have a whole spectrum of ideas on it. Things like the absence of friends and family might automatically pop into your mind, or the missing of certain foods, your hometown, the weather, or a type of human warmth very specific to where you come from. Personally, the following sentence immediately banged in my head: Will I ever get used to making mistakes in almost every single sentence, or group of sentences I articulate? The biggest challenge I face as an expat is the fact that I am not able to...  More >


Desire for economic reform is petering out

Dutch must not abandon reforms as economy picks up Reform hurts, says economist Mathijs Bouman, but calling a halt to the reforms will hurt more. In the middle of the euro crisis reforming the economy seemed an important and unavoidable priority. But once the ECB saved the euro and started buying bonds European capitals began to feel much less convinced. The principle is still valid; it is a truth universally acknowledged that only structural reform – principally in the labour market but also the pension and tax systems – will lead to a sustainable economic recovery. But the pressure’s off and European politicians seem to be going for the old postponement reflex. The French need to reform but don’t want to. The Belgians want to but can’t. The Germans can but don’t want to try. The Greeks try but never seem to last more than a day. And the Dutch? They have shown themselves to be veritable champions of structural reform in the last couple of years. Two cabinets led by Mark Rutte have produced an impressive list...  More >


Podcast: The Bitterball Twist Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Bitterball Twist Edition – Week 27 In this week's podcast we have the latest news on the MH17 prosecution, a bus that runs on insect venom, a lemur that went walkabout and a bitter row about vegetarian snacks in Utrecht. Our discussion looks at the latest study into discrimination against ethnic minority job applicants. Top story MH17 suspects will be prosecuted in Netherlands News Customs officer who let drugs into Rotterdam jailed for 14 years Bitterballen row heats up in Utrecht TU Eindhoven unveils bus that runs on formic acid Lemur goes on the run in Amsterdam Discussion: workplace discrimination Violent criminals more likely to get a job than ethnic minorities - report The Hague city council to introduce anonymous job applications Minister says no to anonymous job application trial for civil servants If you're applying for jobs, you're better off with a criminal record than a foreign surname (Volkskrant, Dutch) What do the party leaders want to do about discrimination...  More >


Bus stop, wet day? Share a green ride

Going Dutch: Bus stop, wet day? Please share my green taxi Electric charging stations may be a more common sight in Dutch cities and car parks, but smart shared transport services are helping the Netherlands reduce empty buses and polluted skies, reports Senay Boztas On his weekend trip to see his parents, and their washing machine, Jason David no longer has to wait for a bus if there’s no chance of a lift. The 21-year-old, who is studying in Breda but whose folks live in Arnhem, can simply use the Breng Flex app to order an eco-friendly minibus from the train station. He is one of a growing group of people in Arnhem and Nijmegen, young and old, to enjoy the 'flexibility, comfort and personal service' of a new type of public transport. Public transport company Connexxion has had such success with a four-month trial of Breng Flex replacement buses that they are going to be a permanent fixture of this region and beyond. With a fleet of 10 minibuses running on green gas, made from biomass, and eight Hyundai IONIQ Electric cars, around...  More >