It isn’t just the Netherlands that will turn orange on King’s Day on Saturday. In around 140 Dutch embassies around the world, people will break out the beers and bitterballen, dress themselves in a colour guaranteed to suit no-one and blow away their blues.
The AD reports that from an orange-clad Kenyan band in Nairobi to €69-a-head celebrations in Berlin, the party will go global, largely with the help of business sponsorship. Seven in 10 of the parties will be largely sponsored by big multinationals such as Heineken, Shell, Philips and Dutch banks, it claims.
But Renske Leijten, an MP for the Socialist Party, told the newspaper that business sponsorship should not always be welcome at such events.
‘This creates the impression of a conflict of interests and favouritism,’ she reportedly said. ‘Why can the ING, which has just received a mega fine of €775 million for allowing money laundering, sponsor these drinks? And why is it necessary for a multinational like Shell, accused of causing severe pollution and arming militias in Nigeria, to buy access to government?
‘Companies want something in return for their investment and with sponsorship they are buying influence.’
Diplomatic expert Robert van de Roer told the AD that embassies should beware of businesses bearing gifts. ‘Embassies should avoid the impression that companies can buy influence,’ he reportedly said. ‘I would welcome an attempt to do something about this.’
ING told DutchNews.nl: ‘If we sponsor a local event by a Dutch embassy, we do that at their request. Since in that way we purely contribute to something positive for the local community, we do not really see how that conflicts with the fine we paid in a completely unrelated matter.’
DutchNews.nl has also asked Shell to comment.