Dutch French firm wins contract to make post Brexit British passports

Dutch French firm wins contract to make post Brexit British passports

Dutch French firm Gemalto has won the contract to produce the new blue British passports which will be used by British nationals after Brexit, much to the fury of many people in Britain. The decision to award the €560m contract to the European firm led British company De La Rue to describe the decision as 'disappointing'. The government should have been 'supporting British business', the company said. De La Rue has the current contract to supply Britain's European passports, but that deal expires next year. Under EU rules, the government has to put the contract out to European tender. Gemalto, which specialises in identity documents, is listed on both the Amsterdam and Paris stock exchanges. It already supplies passports to the US, Denmark, France and India but not, according to its website, to the Netherlands.  More >

Rutte and Macron discuss EU finances

Rutte and Macron exchange views on EU finances ahead of key summit French president Emmanuel Macron was in the Netherlands on Wednesday for bilateral talks with prime minister Mark Rutte ahead of the European Council meeting later this week. Speaking at a news conference after the meeting, Rutte said that both the Netherlands and France were 'on the same side'. 'Issues such migration, climate, the internal market, security and defence can all benefit from the European alliance,' Rutte said. This, according to broadcaster NOS, was a nod to Macron's speech last year in which he set out his ideas for Europe and further integration. For his part, Macron said he is pleased at the way the two countries work together to deal with problems such as IS. But he went on to suggest that the Netherlands should 'take more responsibility' to enable greater integration. The Dutch government does not want to send more money to Brussels but should change tack, Macron said. EU member states should work together on fiscal policy such as harmonising corporate taxes, the French prime minister said. The Netherlands is strongly opposed to this, arguing that the current low Dutch rates are one reason the country is so successful in attracting foreign firms. Macron described this as 'unfair'. 'We have to work together otherwise the big companies will play us off against each other,' he is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. Eurozone Website Politico described the meeting as 'as part of an effort by the two leaders to figure out if they can see eye-to-eye on eurozone policy and, more generally, on the EU’s political future.' Both are both pro-EU and hold liberal economic views, but Macron has laid out an expansive federalist vision, even endorsing the concept of a EU finance minister. Rutte, by contrast, believes power should be concentrated as much as possible in the national capitals, Politico said. In a speech in Berlin earlier this month, Rutte said Britain’s departure from the EU is an opportunity to reduce the EU’s joint budget. The Netherlands is a net contributor. 'Let me be very clear,’ he said. ‘My goal for the multi-annual budget is this: no increase in contributions, but better results within a smaller budget. Dans le bureau de Mark Rutte, Premier ministre des Pays-Bas. pic.twitter.com/60AcaOVHCh — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 21, 2018   More >

Unilever opts for Rotterdam over London

Iranians demonstrate against Islamic regime in Amsterdam, The Hague The British government said on Thursday Unilever had decided to locate its new single headquarters operation to Rotterdam because of long-term strategic restructuring not because of Brexit. The Anglo-Dutch healthcare-to-foods concern confirmed the long-awaited decision to move to Rotterdam in a statement on Thursday. The British government downplayed the shift in a short statement on Twitter. 'As the company has made clear, the decision to move a small group of people to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands ... is not connected to the EU's departure from the EU,' the statement said. And Unilever chief financial officer, Graeme Pitkethly, told the Guardian Brexit 'was absolutely not a factor' in the decision, which was announced after a board meeting and a year-long review. The government’s response to today’s announcement from @Unilever on their long-term commitment to the UK. pic.twitter.com/6worCtfwYr — Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) March 15, 2018 Unilever has maintained separate headquarters in Rotterdam and London since it was founded in 1930 but has always operated as a single business with a single board of directors. The British government had been lobbying hard to keep Unilever in London as 'proof' to others that Britain remained a good place for corporate investment. But after a failed takeover attempt by  US rival Kraft Heinz last year, Unilever took a closer look at the Rotterdam option because Dutch corporate laws allow companies to adopt ‘poison pill’ anti-takeover defences. Margarine Unilever has been trimming its sails since the Kraft Heinz bid, selling its spreads and margarine division to investment group KKR in December. At the same time it was decided that the dual headquarters structure was too expensive. Unilever will maintain a large presence in Britain, with 7,300 of its 170,000 employees located there, against just over 3,000 in the Netherlands. R&D units are located in both countries. And the vital Beauty & Personal Care and Home Care divisions will continue to be operated from London, Unilever said. Unilever will continue to be listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges.  More >

Dutch MEPs welcome Selmayr investigation

Dutch MEPs welcome probe into controversial civil servant appointment Dutch MEPs have welcomed the decision to hold an inquiry into the way controversial civil servant Martin Selmayr was appointed to the top job in Brussels without debate or alternative candidates. Sophie in 't Veld, who had called earlier for an investigation, said the speech by European commissioner Günther Oettinger defending the appointment was 'plain stupid'. Oettinger told the European parliament during the debate that the appointment - which included two promotions within the space of nine minutes - took place within the rules. 'At that point you heard a wave of disbelief move through the room,' In 't Veld said. 'The commission just has not heard the political signals.' 'This is nepotism of the highest order,' ChristenUnie MEP Peter van Daalen said after the debate. The investigation, which had the unanimous backing of parliament, will also include claims that Selmayr's appointment was linked to improved perks for former commissioners and forged minutes - both claims Oettinger denied. Speech by @GOettingerEU on #Selmayrgate of the kind that usually elicits the advice “when in a hole, the first thing to do is: stop digging”. Praising the Emperor’s new clothes at this stage is plain stupid — Sophie in 't Veld (@SophieintVeld) March 12, 2018   More >

EMA move to Amsterdam approved

Iranians demonstrate against Islamic regime in Amsterdam, The Hague The  European parliament's health committee on Monday voted in favour of the decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam, despite the objections of some MEPs. The vote means work can start on the construction of the head office of the prestigious EU agency in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district. One provision to head off concerns about the tight timetable for building the new office is that the Dutch government has to report on progress with the construction work every three months. Italian MEPs wanted to block the EMA’s move from London to Amsterdam, arguing that the Dutch government had withheld crucial information about the new head office. The EMA will have to move twice because the actual new premises in Amsterdam’s Zuidas will only be ready in November 2019. The  full European parliament will vote on the legislation on Thursday. ‘That will be a formality,’ Dutch MEP Bas Eijkhout, who is a member of the health committee, told the Financieele Dagblad.  More >