Open economy is good for the Netherlands

The Netherlands must be seen to be open for business: D66 The Netherlands has to protect its own companies but must be seen to open for business at the same time, says D66 MP Jan Paternotte. An open economy is good for the Netherlands. At the same time we must prevent Dutch companies from becoming an easy prey for American companies on a shopping spree. A compulsory cooling-off period in the case of a hostile takeover, as suggested by former CEOs Jan Hommen and Hans Weijers, would be a good way of creating a bit of much-needed breathing space. Companies will then have an opportunity of offering shareholders an alternative. Recently three Dutch companies have been the objects of unwanted corporate attention: PostNL, Unilever and AkzoNobel. The American company PPG announced it could launch a hostile bid on AkzoNobel at any given moment. There are several European countries with a political and cultural tradition of building defensive walls around ‘their’ national companies. You may have shares in a French company but ownership...  More >

Podcast: The Headbanging Vultures Edition

In the week that Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate change agreement, we've compiled a podcast from recycled material  – another round of coalition talks, another hate speech inquiry for Geert Wilders and the first Dutch winner of a major cycling tour race for 37 years. And we dive in to the ongoing debate about whether English has become too dominant at Dutch universities. Top story Coalition talks resume with new helmsman News Wilders faces prosecution for speech in Austria Well-wishers record video for Amsterdam's seriously ill mayor Dutch students prefer green employers to banks Gay vultures hatch chick at Amsterdam zoo (Time) Tom Dumoulin receives hero's reception after winning Giro d'Italia Discussion: Are Dutch universities using too much English? Dutch universities again under fire over English; court case looms More than half of courses taught entirely in English (Volkskrant)  More >

The experiences of a bicycle mayor

In June 2016, Anna Luten, the world’s first bicycle mayor, was elected in the Netherlands to act as an ambassador for cycling in Amsterdam and help other cities develop a cycle culture. Deborah Nicholls-Lee met Anna to discuss the highs and lows of her first year in office. There was a time when Anna Luten (29), a former brand manager in the bicycle industry and Amsterdam’s first bicycle mayor, thought she might never bike again. Seven years ago, hurtling through Noordwijk at 35kph in a road race, Anna collided with a pedestrian. ‘In the end, I was really lucky,’ she says. ‘It was only my face…and when you’re young, you recover quite quickly.’ This is typical of the positive outlook of this upbeat young woman, who lost several teeth, split her tongue and needed a total of 27 stitches. Just eight months later, she completed the gruelling Amstel Gold Race ‘to make sure to overcome my fear.’ A global mission In fact, falling out of love with biking equipped...  More >

‘I am not a tourist’ in Eindhoven

The ‘I am not a Tourist’ fair and International Festival are back in Eindhoven Learning Dutch, finding a house, experiencing Dutch culture, making connections, solving immigration and tax issues…everything is an option at the ‘I am not a tourist’ expat fair which is taking place in Eindhoven for the second time on June 11. The ‘I am not a tourist’ fair is the biggest expat-orientated event in the Netherlands, which until last year had only been held in Amsterdam.  The Eindhoven event has been organised together with the Holland Expat Center South in recognition of the growing importance of the region as an international centre. The ‘I am not a tourist’ fair in Eindhoven is a prime opportunity for internationals in Eindhoven and beyond to get the lowdown on life in the ‘lowlands’. The event brings together 50 exhibitors and more than 1,500 internationals in an historic setting: the former VDMA garage on the Vestdijk, a stunning industrial building in the heart of the city. Seminars Newcomers will be able to find out more about housing...  More >

'I am surprised that I like living here!'

Alma Patist (64), a Filipina married to a Dutchman, has been living in the Netherlands for two decades. She has no time for complaining expats, loves Dutch comfort food and works as a teaching assistant in an international school. How did you end up in the Netherlands? In short, I married a Dutchman. I didn't think that we would ever live in the Netherlands but certain circumstances brought us here. We were in our forties and living in Singapore as expats. Our work took us to different countries but my husband's company closed. Eventually we decided to move to the Netherlands because my husband and our two kids are Dutch, so we decided it was time to come back 'home'. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international ? I don't like to label myself. I am just a human being who has lived in many places! How long do you plan to stay? I'll be here forever. My kids and grandchildren live here and life is kind. The government and the people really look after...  More >

Side-line the CDA: Marianne Thieme

It’s time for a cabinet without the CDA: Marianne Thieme The Christian Democrats are never going to support real green policies and it time they should be cut out of the cabinet formation process, writes Marianne Thieme, leader of the pro-animal PvdD No matter how often it was suggested that Edith Schippers and the cabinet negotiators from the VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks were creating the ‘greenest cabinet ever’ it was clear from the outset that GroenLinks and the CDA were never going to see eye to eye. The differences between the two were large: a cap on the number of animals held in mega stables, climate objectives and the transition to a more plant-based and animal friendlier society - in short the green bit in the GroenLinks election programme. Former coalition broker and CDA stalwart Herman Wijffels and CDA leader Sybrand Buma were adamant the party was never going to agree to green reform, rather the opposite. The formation process had hardly started when it stumbled at the first hurdle. The climate legislation proposed...  More >

Podcast: The Bus Baby Eagle Edition

Our latest podcast features the mother in Breda who checked in for one on the bus but checked out for two, why a Dutch-trained American eagle is minding Donald Trump in Brussels, and how a court decided an Iraqi refugee was 'not gay enough' to stay in the Netherlands. We also discuss the fall-out from Ajax's defeat in the Europa League final and whether we're any closer to a new Dutch government. Top story Work starts on Amsterdam Eurostar terminal News Gay refugee refused asylum Baby born on bus in Breda Wageningen tree takes to Twitter Record traffic jams on Ascension Day Police hunt 14-year-old boy playing with toy guns (NOS) Ajax lose Europa League final Drone eagle patrols skies over Nato summit Discussion: where now for the coalition talks? Dutch coalition talks reach stalemate as D66 picks up some of the blame Schippers warns party leaders that a minority cabinet looms All at sea: Rutte and Pechtold discuss the formation problems...  More >

12 great things to do in June

Summer is now well and truly with us, so its time to check out some of the great things to do in the Netherlands in June. There is lots of outdoor stuff of course, as well as English-language theatre, art fairs and an electrifying exhibition. Stroll in a Japanese garden You have just eleven days to visit the magical Japanese garden at Clingendael Park in the Hague which only opens its doors eight weeks in the year. Tread carefully; the plants are extremely fragile and strollers, baby carriages and dogs are not allowed. There is a separate entrance for wheelchair users who follow a shorter route. Only a limited number of people are allowed in so expect a wait. Until June 11. Website Party at Pinkpop The traditional Pentecost Pinkpop Festival kicks off on June 3 but Saturday is Bieber day and tickets for that day sold out quite some time ago. But you may still be lucky enough to score a ticket for June 4 or 5 when the programme features Liam Gallagher, Broederliefde, Amber Run...  More >

10 key facts about the Efteling theme park

A certain other magical kingdom may be ‘the happiest place on earth’ but the Netherlands’ homegrown Efteling has been going strong since 1952. Located in the town of Kaatsheuvel, the iconic Dutch theme park first opened its doors to the public on 31 May, 1952. As it approaches its 65th anniversary, Brandon Hartley lists some wild things you might not know about this ‘World of Wonders’. Walt’s Inspiration? A longstanding (and oft-repeated) legend claims that Walt Disney visited Efteling in the early 1950s and was inspired to break ground on his own theme park in California. How much of this is truth and how much is fantasy? Well, the initial conceptual drawings for Disneyland date back to at least 1948 and Uncle Walt’s muses didn’t hail from any one place. His park drew inspiration from everything including Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. However, there’s at least a small possibility that he may have made it to Efteling. Walt and his...  More >

The Next Web: technology's effect on us

A lot can happen in a year. In 2016 The Next Web almost doubled in size and in 2017 it was bigger still. More interesting though was that the size and scope of technology’s effect on us - not just our businesses but the way we live our lives, in fact our very notions of reality - was up for discussion too. Esther O’Toole took a look. 'They failed to take into’s almost infinite appetite for distractions,' Aldous Huxley When Aldous Huxley wrote his classic dystopian novel, Brave New World, he suggested that the comfort of a technologically enhanced life, and the distractions it provides us, may pose a risk to individual freedoms. Weird, you'd think, to hear that quoted at the start of a massive tech conference. But James Williams is a philosophy PHD at Oxford. He kickstarted day one with a thoughtful break down of how distracting our current tech has become and his ideas on how to avoid that distraction becoming all consuming. 'I think something profound...  More >

Podcast: The Moonlighting Monarch Edition

In this week's podcast we debate the likely shape of the next government after the coalition talks broke down, find out about  look at why Amsterdam wants to let Muslim police officers wear headscarves, fight over who gets the tickets to see the pandas and jibe Molly for knowing nothing about football. Top Story King Willem-Alexander confesses to being a secret KLM pilot News Amsterdam police consider including headscarves in uniform Policeman chases own tail in pursuit of decoy bike Ede is the happiest place in the Netherlands, Rotterdam the most miserable Feyenoord win first title in 18 years Rush of demand for tickets to see pandas Discussion: Where now for the Dutch coalition talks? Schippers calls a pause for self-reflection Formation dilemmas: D66 not keen on coalition with ChristenUnie Dutch MPs debate coalition formation as process begins all over again Party leaders to meet to discuss next steps after Dutch coalition talks flop Talks...  More >

I appreciate how individualism works here

Theatre designer Vasilis Apostolatos (44) came to The Hague from Athens for love, and found an outlet for his creativity here. Vasilis teaches at a theatre academy in Maastricht and works with STET, an English language theatre in The Hague. He took time out of his schedule to talk about expat life, love, and oliebollen. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Love. This is the only thing that can move me. It’s quite simple, I met a wonderful Dutch guy online, and we met in Athens and fell in love. We met right after I finished with eight months of chemotherapy, and after something like that you’re more open to try new things. You value life in a different way. It was the right moment to move. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? All of those. There are moments when you feel like an expat, and a lot of moments when you feel like an immigrant, especially in northern Europe. After I left Greece, hundreds of Greek friends of mine were desperate...  More >

Analysis: why the coalition talks failed

The three issues that the parties were unable to agree on were the same areas where Jesse Klaver was most keen to make his mark – but the Greens could still have a say in the outcome, says Gordon Darroch The announcement on Monday evening that talks to form a new Dutch government had broken down came as a shock, but no great surprise. There had been indications towards the end of last week that the four parties – the Liberals (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA), progressive liberals D66 and left-wing green party GroenLinks – were starting to grow tired of each other's company. The first major breach came from the CDA, whose more progressive wing lamented that leader Sybrand Buma had parked the bus squarely in front of GroenLinks's energy reforms. Party veteran Herman Wijffels went so far as to compare his leader unfavourably with Donald Trump on the issue of climate change. Then came a poll at the weekend by Maurice de Hond which revealed growing scepticism among the VVD's...  More >

No such thing as 'typical volunteer'

Would you volunteer with refugees? These 14 Dutch people did What is a typical volunteer? This is what international photographer Marcus Valance and his partner writer Daan Posthouwer asked themselves after spending most of 2016 volunteering in Greece and Lebanon during the refugee crisis. The project 'Portraits of Dutch Volunteers' grew out of a desire to find out more about what makes a volunteer tick and to show that 'volunteers aren't all hippies wearing homespun socks’, says Marcus. They chose their subjects randomly from a large cross-section of willing and eager volunteers, travelling all over the country to meet them and talk about their experiences. ‘Portraits of Dutch Volunteers’ shows how diverse this group really is. 'This project has a strong message - that there is no such thing as a typical volunteer,' says Daan. 'The motivations for volunteering are as diverse as the people themselves. These people, who have put their lives on hold to help others during the refugee-crisis, deserve to be honoured for what they do.' Ansje...  More >

Video: Dutch tv on Trump's Russian links

Dutch television current affairs show Zembla is claiming that US president Donald Trump has extensive connections to Russian oligarchs and even to convicted gangsters. The 45-minute documentary looks at Trumps alleged relationship with Russian mobster Felix Slater and agreements he has with rich Russians. 'The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail,' the programme makers say.  'Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?' the programme asks.   More >

Podcast: The Crashing Boars Edition

In this week's podcast we catch up with the latest news from the coalition talks, Dutch success in the Europa League and Eurovision Song Contest, and hear about some runaway pigs in Gelderland. Unfortunately technical gremlins have deprived us of the discussion section of the programme, but normal service will hopefully be resumed next week. Top story Still no government in sight after 58 days News Schiphol tries to cut waiting times Criminals cutting off electronic tags ProRail issues warning about train track selfies Wild boars rampage through campsite (Telegraaf) Video from De Telegraaf Sport Feyenoord miss chance to clinch Eredivisie title Ajax reach final of Europa League Advocaat unveiled as national team manager in heated press conference    More >

Six ways to cut down on food waste

In the Netherlands, we throw away €2.5bn worth of edible food a year - but it doesn’t have to be this way. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on six initiatives which were set up to reduce our food waste. The United Nations has pledged to reduce our planet’s food waste by 50% by 2030  and each country must play its part. Here in the Netherlands, we discard over a third of our food output yet 2.5 million people live below the poverty line and struggle to feed themselves. The following schemes are challenging this paradox, helping the Netherlands to meet its food waste goals and rethink the way it uses food. NoFoodWasted  Who doesn’t love those 35% off stickers? NoFoodWasted have developed a free app that alerts you when items on your shopping list are marked down in your local supermarket. The app currently has around 40,000 users and scooped this year’s NRC award for the most impactful Start Up. Founded by August de Vocht in December 2014, NoFoodWasted was inspired...  More >

The hunt for international talent is on

The war for talent is on in the Netherlands and international companies are hunting for highly-skilled, well-travelled employees.  Like many expats, Phil Mander came to the Netherlands for a fantastic job opportunity and stayed for the quality of life ‘I moved to Amsterdam from London six years ago and haven't looked back. In that time, I've bought an apartment here, started a family and began working freelance. Amsterdam has one of the best tech scenes in Europe and as a web developer it's a great place to work,’ says  Mander, a tech specialist at In its most recent Index of Globalisation the KOF Swiss Economic Institute places the Netherlands right at the top; the most globalised country in the world. It makes sense of course. Holland’s key location within Europe has given The Netherlands a rich history of international trading. Combine this with a winning attitude to inclusion and multiculturalism; its topping UNICEF’s recent report into child...  More >

The hidden history of Sorghvliet

Tucked away behind an imposing wall on the route from The Hague to Scheveningen is a little-known park with an eventful history. Moira Holden has been to visit. A sea-like carpet of bluebells stretches deep into the woodland in Sorghvliet Park as spring coaxes out the wildflowers. Secluded by a high wall as the traffic thunders up the road towards the seaside, this peaceful Dutch scene replaces the sound of the cars with a relaxing, calm mood. Sorghvliet translates into ‘free of cares’ and it is easy to see why this leafy oasis has become a place for quiet solitude. It isn’t a busy park, but it’s definitely a special spot for those in the know. At this time of the year, the floor of the parkland becomes a platform for the season’s wood anemones and lily of the valley, but it’s the breath-taking swathes of bluebells that dominate the lie of the parkland. Today, the towering trees and the wildflowers don’t give a hint of the major role played by the park in the...  More >