Dutch appoint former minister to lobby EU over pulse fishing

Turkey vows to improve ties with the Netherlands: Turkish media

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

Turkey vows to improve ties with the Netherlands: Turkish media 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 >

Ukrainian opposition leader in Rotterdam

Ukrainian opposition leader in the Netherlands after deportation Ukrainian opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday, two days after he was deported to Poland by the Ukrainian border service. Saakashvili is married to Dutch woman Sandra Roelofs and the couple have two sons. His lawyer Oscar Hammerstein, who accompanied him to Schiphol, said Saakashvili will be settling in the Netherlands. His residency has been 'organised and approved' by the immigration service, Hammerstein said, adding that 'he is delighted to be here'. Saakashvili himself told Dutch broadcaster NOS: 'It is always good to be here. I don't know Rotterdam well but I am often in Zeeland, in Terneuzen, and of course Amsterdam. I am here because of what happened in Ukraine. We will see how long I stay.' Saakashvili served as president of his native Georgia for most of the period from 2004-2013 and was then invited to Ukraine by president Petro Poroshenko, who took power after protests in 2014. He later fell out with Poroshenko and joined the opposition. Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship last year. Saakashvili told a news conference in Warsaw on Tuesday that he would continue encouraging Ukrainians to stand up to authorities he considers 'corrupt elites', the Associated Press news agency said. Олексій Гончаренко повідомляє, що Саакашвілі вже в Амстердамі. Фото з фб Гончаренка pic.twitter.com/ySV1l1jgXd — Радіо Свобода (@radiosvoboda) February 14, 2018   More >

European Parliament to check EMA decision

Turkey vows to improve ties with the Netherlands: Turkish media A European Parliament delegation is to investigate the decision to move the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam. The delegation will be lead by Giovanni La Via, who asked the Dutch ambassador to organise an inspection at the end of January, after it emerged that the EMA would initially be placed in ‘not optimal’ temporary accommodation in Sloterdijk. Milan had tied with Amsterdam as the EU member states’ favoured location for the medicines regulation and safety agency after Brexit, but the Dutch capital won on a draw in November last year. Public broadcaster NOS reports on Friday that European Parliament faction leaders have now approved an investigation, after the Italian government and Milan city leaders called for the Amsterdam choice to be reversed. At a press conference in The Hague in January, it was announced that the purpose-built EMA building in Zuidas would not be ready until November 2019. Instead, the Dutch government would rent a smaller site from January for the agency in Sloterdijk – at its own expense. EMA executive director Guido Rasi admitted it was a compromise and that the body would have to rent external meeting facilities. ‘It’s not optimal: we only have half of the space compared to our current premises,’ he said. The delegation will report its findings to the European Parliament environment committee in March, reports NOS, and this body must then formally agree to the EMA relocation.  More >

Brits in Amsterdam win Brexit case

Turkey vows to improve ties with the Netherlands: Turkish media A group of five British citizens in the Netherlands on Wednesday won their case to have their fight to keep European citizenship referred to the European Court of Justice. The five individuals and two foundations had asked the Amsterdam court to refer the issue to the Luxembourg court so it can clarify what EU law says about citizenship. In his ruling, the presiding judge Floris Bakels said he will ask the European court preliminary questions about what the consequences of a Brexit would be for EU citizenship and the rights which EU citizenship brings. Will Brexit mean that EU citizenship is automatically reversed or will Brits retain these rights and, if so, under which circumstances? 'We are obviously delighted with the court’s decision,' said Stephen Huyton, one of the plaintiffs. 'However, this is only the first step to clarity about what Brexit means for our EU citizenship. 'This case has always been about seeking clarification. Not only for the 46,000 Brits living in the Netherlands, but also for the 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries. As has been demonstrated in recent days, what Brexit means is still the subject of much discussion. You cannot play with the lives of 1.2 million people as if they are pieces on a chess board.' Brexit means Brexit Lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, who represents the plaintiffs said: 'Theresa May famously said, Brexit means Brexit, but the Brits currently living on the continent have no idea what that means for them. 'Are you an EU citizen for life or can your citizenship be taken away from you? That is the fundamental question that will be put to the European Court,' he said. EU treaties state that any person who is a citizen of an EU member state is also an EU citizen which entitles them to move and live freely within the EU itself. Although the EU and Britain have made some progress on citizens’ rights in their negotiations so far, many – such as freedom of movement – are still up in the air. Lawyers for the Dutch state and the city of Amsterdam had described the case as artificial and said that there was no proper connection to Dutch law. British nationals should, they said, direct themselves to the British government or British courts instead.  More >