A VAT hike with a health warning?

Perhaps a paediatrician is not best placed to explain the effects of a hike in value-added tax and its impact on food, writes Mathijs Bouman. Who do you see if you have a question about your child’s illness? The paediatrician, of course. And who do you ask about the effect of price on household spending? That same paediatrician, naturally. Why? Because paediatricians know all about supply and demand: if something goes up in price people will buy less of it. That is why paediatrician Koen Joosten of the Erasmus Medical Centre got so worked up about the increase in VAT on food from 6% to 9% the other day. Standing in front of a vegetable stall positively bursting with health-giving but now more expensive foods he stated: ‘This will discourage people from eating fruit and vegetables.’ Joosten has my sympathy, he really does. He has been telling us for years we need to eat more healthily. He’s fighting the good fight and I promise to have an extra helping of broccoli tonight. But...  More >

Podcast: The Tax-Free Shortbread Edition

DutchNews Podcast – The Tax-Free Millionaires’ Shortbread Edition – Week 45 In the week that the Paradise Papers leak exposed some of the the murky dealings of the Dutch revenue service and Mark Rutte faced some awkward questions about his plans to scrap dividend tax, we ask how and why the Netherlands became a Valhalla of tax efficiency. Elsewhere, Dick Advocaat accidentally discloses his own departure as national team manager, a Van Gogh painting is revealed to contain a departed insect, and the deadline looms for health insurers to declare their rates for next year. Top story Ministers under pressure over dividend tax 'blackmail' News Brabant councils sign up for legal cannabis production plan Health insurers declare premiums for 2018 as deadline nears Click here to take part in ICP's international survey of Dutch health insurance Dead grasshopper found in Van Gogh painting (The Guardian) Philosophy school to give lessons on Mein Kampf Sport Netherlands grind out 1-0 win against Scotland Advocaat to step down after Romania...  More >

'The Dutch are emotional at times'

‘The Dutch are sometimes more emotional than they claim they are’ Belgian Peter Vandermeersch has been editor of the NRC newspaper since 2010 and now has no intention of living anywhere else but Amsterdam. He misses long Belgian lunches and still hates karnemelk but is planning to become Dutch so he can vote in the national elections. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here in a rather special way because I was elected editor of the NRC in 2010, the best newspaper in the Dutch language. Professionally it was much more exciting to work here - my dream come true. My wife is a lobbyist and she stayed in Brussels. One weekend I go back there and one weekend she comes here. We said we would do this for a year but it has now been seven years. We'll probably change the arrangement when my son completes secondary school. It would be nice to live together again. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? Sometimes I say I am a Vlaming who got lost in Holland and sometimes I say I am a Dutchman who was...  More >

Buying a home in the Netherlands: a risk?

To buy or not to buy? Is buying a home in the Netherlands worth the risk? Does it sometimes seem as if all your mates are jumping on the bandwagon and buying a home and you are still stuck in your rented flat with the creaky floors? Sometimes buying a home makes more sense, but not always. Here are a few key things to think about. The housing market, particularly in the big Dutch cities, is rarely out of the news at the moment - soaring prices, lack of choice, changes to the mortgage rules - you might consider yourself lucky in your rental flat, dodgy plumbing and all. After all, the greatest advantages of renting a home are flexibility and the lack of risk. You can come and go whenever you want, you’re not responsible for major maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about what would happen if the value of your property goes down. Of course, this comes with a price – literally. Renting in the Netherlands is not cheap and depending on where you are, you could be worse off financially in a rental property. A three-room flat in Amsterdam’s...  More >

Blog watching: Turning Dutch

Blog watching: 10 things you’ll find out when you move to the Netherlands Amanda van Mulligen is a mother, writer, author, blogger who was born in Britain but lives in the Netherlands. She has three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and blogs about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children. The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here are ten things you don’t necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here. 1. Coffee is an obsession There is a fair bit of cheese here and the Dutch do miss their Edam and Gouda when they leave the shores of the Netherlands but what comes as more of a surprise when you come to live here is the national obsession with coffee. The Dutch drink a lot of coffee. I mean an awful lot of coffee. How’s this for coffee drinking? After the Scandinavian...  More >

Podcast: The Unfortunate Train Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Unfortunate Train Name Edition – Week 44 This week's podcast has a transport theme as a judge calls time on Amsterdam's beer bikes, the Anne Frank Foundation cries foul on Germany's national rail operator and Russia has a hissy fit over air cargo slots at Schiphol. We also tackle the mystery of the cat that travelled 150km to a Belgian town with an appropriate name. In our discussion we analyse the two-day debate in Parliament to welcome the new Dutch government. Top story Government 'will ignore result of Big Brother referendum' News Russia threatens to close airspace in Schiphol row Sint Maarten agrees to Dutch conditions for reconstructing Amsterdam wins long-running war on beer bikes Migrants from Europe and America boost Dutch population Anne Frank Foundation objects to name of German train Max Verstappen triumphs in Mexican Grand Prix Missing cat turns up in Belgian town called Muizen And if you want an expat insight into what goes on in Dutch neighbourhood meetings... 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨The...  More >

Van Gogh's brush strokes come alive

Vincent van Gogh’s fluid brush strokes already seem to move across the canvas but now a film has brought them to life, animating physical paintings to tell the Dutch artist’s story, writes Senay Boztas. Loving Vincent is the title of the first fully-painted feature film, currently in cinemas, and a making-of exhibition at Het Noordbrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch until January 28 2018. Both the film and exhibition were beset with challenges, from erasing a Greek fly that got stuck in the paint of one of 65,000 stills to persuading museums this artistic project fits their space, co-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman told DutchNews.nl. Wind back almost a decade and Kobiela, a passionate painter and Van Gogh fan with an idea for a seven-minute painted film animation, had taken a job at Welchman’s company, BreakThru films in London. Love and marriage ‘She had money from the Polish Film Institute, came to work for my company, we fell in love and got married…and...  More >

US and NL see eye to eye on immigration

Dutch and American politics have simultaneously sunk to the same low. Both have side-lined their child refugee amnesties and are putting up walls to stop immigration, writes historian James Kennedy It is proof that the tone and policies of the new cabinet’s government agreement are as narrow-minded as the attitude of the most bull-headed of American Republicans. The bone of contention in the US is an old law passed by the Obama administration called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) which prevented around 800,000 ‘illegal’ children from being deported. These children, who entered the country with their parents, were entitled to a temporary residency permit and, provided they did not commit any criminal acts, a work permit as well. Stealing jobs? Research has shown that Daca has had a beneficial effect on the financial situation and the well-being of the children and their families without prejudicing Americans in any way. The policy was thwarted from...  More >

Amsterdam has a museum devoted to funerals

With Halloween in full swing, it’s that time of year when people focus on the morbid. But, reports Deborah Nicholls-Lee, even a museum devoted to death can be a cheery affair. ‘We are very happy people here,’ says Guus Sluiter, director of Tot Zover (So Far!), the Netherlands’ only funeral museum, although he has just warned me that we may need to continue the interview elsewhere as our room is often used by the cemetery to plan ceremonies with the bereaved. I struggle to reconcile the two: the graveyard view behind us, and the cheerful director and his staff. It’s not a museum most would visit to lift their mood, but there is something unexpectedly soothing about it, like the catharsis you experience after attending a funeral. ‘We read a lot in the guest book that people are a bit surprised that it was not as sombre or dark as they thought it would be,’ he explains. ‘In our marketing, we always try to emphasise that we are not a dull or depressing museum.’ Sluiter...  More >

Podcast: The Shoes to Sterilise Edition

In this week's we give you the lowdown on who's who in the new Dutch government and find out why the health minister's shoes made a splash at the swearing-in ceremony. Others to make a splash this week were the protester who disrupted a dolphin show in Japan and the students who came up with a novel way to stop green roofs leaking. In sport, we find out why Max Verstappen is still angry about being pushed off the podium and which Dutch player is officially the world's best footballer. Top story New government takes office after marathon coalition talks conclude News MeToo campaign on sexual harassment spreads to Netherlands You can read Gordon's blog post The Weinstein Spectrum here Students win award for roof coating made from old condoms and tampons Traffic jams to get worse despite roadbuilding plan Illegal bird killing worse than suspected Sport Max Verstappen fuming as overtaking penalty costs him podium finish Lieke Martens named FIFA's footballer...  More >

Twelve great things to do in November

From the arrival of Sinterklaas in Friesland to a look at Van Gogh's Paris, there are lots of great things to do in the Netherlands in November, as Hanneke Sanou has been finding out. Pay a visit to the palace There is just time to check out this year's crop of promising young artists who have won the annual Koninklijke prijs voor vrije schilderkunst at the Palace on Dam square in Amsterdam. Until November 5. Website Catch a con at the Scheepvaartmuseum The Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam presents Gamechangers, a selection of 25 maritime inventions inspired by the life on the ocean waves, including Cornelis Drebbel's first submarine from 1620. The museum is promising to reveal a world of 'visionary pioneers, humanitarians and dangerous conmen'. Until July 1 2018. Website See Red with Rothko The Orange Tea Theatre's forthcoming production is John Logan's Tony Award-winning 'Red'. A portrait of the artist Mark Rothko emerges as he spars with his young assistant Ken....  More >

Three unique living options in The Hague

Living in The Hague means living in the only large Dutch city by the sea. It takes just 15 minutes on the tram from the city centre to breathe in the fresh seaside air or a quick post work swim. With 10 kilometres of sandy beach nearby it is no wonder The Hague is such a popular place to live. Tempted? Here are three unique property developments currently being realised by leading national developer and builder, VORM, in various parts of the city. De Stadhouders De Stadhouders complex is named after several important city leaders from the 17th century. The project is being constructed on the border of the popular Statenkwartier and Duinoord city districts, which is one of the most sought-after living and working locations in The Hague. This new residential complex consist of three buildings, one for each of the stadhouders. The inner courtyard will be transformed into a green and car-free city square. Apartments in the tallest of the three buildings, Frederik Hendrik, are currently...  More >

'If we say 10am, then we meet at 10am'

Carlos M. Roos relocated to Leiden from Caracas in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree. Nine years later, the Venezuelan native teaches at a local university, when he’s not working on his doctorate and a series of innovative musical projects. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came over looking for a very specific master’s programme, which was Philosophy of Art. At the time, that wasn’t the most popular subject out there. I found something along those lines in Bologna, Italy but it wasn’t offered in English. There was also one in Norway but it was a PhD programme. Finally, I came across the website for Leiden University and found one for masters students that had the content I wanted to study and research. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? Right now? An expat, I suppose. For a while, I was more of an international. I spent two years in Leiden and then I moved to Brussels in 2010 where I started a research project. It gave...  More >

At a loss for (Dutch) words?

Psychology students at Radboud University are protesting at suddenly being forced to study in English, even though they signed up for a Dutch course. Here Karen Maex, the rector of the University of Amsterdam, presents the case for a bilingual university in the face of a growing number of English-language courses. An increasingly English language-orientated university education is putting the population at a serious risk of ‘de-wording’, Annette de Groot said recently when she stepped down as professor of experimental language psychology at the University of Amsterdam. De-wording is an interesting term. By thinking and writing exclusively in English we will lose part of our Dutch vocabulary and with it the ability to think in that language. Language replacement, De Groot calls it, and it is happening partly as a result of the increasingly international character of higher education. There is no doubt thatuniversity education is seeing an increase in English. Some 20% of...  More >

Podcast: The Too Many Ministers Edition

In a change to our regular podcast format, this week we interview author Ben Coates about why the Dutch are different, how he became an accidental migrant and how, as a former British political hack, he struggled to make sense of a political system that relies on parties agreeing with each other. We also bring you the names to look out for as the new Dutch government takes shape, the latest news on the murder of student Anne Faber and the remarkable story of the tigers that fled the war in Syria. Top story New Dutch cabinet takes shape News Investigation into death of Anne Faber continues Director of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum resigns Dutch students triumph in solar car challenge Syrian tigers head for Friesland Read the National Geographic article on the refugee tigers here Interview Ben Coates's book, Why The Dutch Are Different, is on sale here    More >

Should expats go Dutch with schools?

With international schools in short supply and long waiting lists becoming the norm, more expatriate parents are considering a Dutch education for their children. Deborah Nicholls-Lee examines its pros and cons. ‘Within both of the kids’ classes, we’ve got Mexican families, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Canadian, - we have a really big mix there,’ says British expatriate Claire Mingay, who has lived in Amsterdam for 12 years. But the multi-cultural school that her children attend is not international: it is a Dutch primary school full of expatriates who, like her and her British husband Mark, have made the decision to enrol their children in the Dutch system. ‘We feel we have the best of both worlds in a Dutch school in the city centre, where there’s a large number of international families,’ she says. ‘We have the international context, the teachers are happy to speak to us in English and understand that we don’t speak good Dutch, and that’s made it quite...  More >

Get to grips with living in Holland

Need help with finding the perfect place to live, a good place to work out or even mates to hang around with? You'll find all the answers at the second edition of the IamExpat Fair in The Hague, which takes place on Saturday November 4, 2017, at the Grote Kerk in the city centre. The IamExpat Fair was set up support internationals in the Netherlands and connect them with local businesses and service providers and the organisers are delighted to be back in The Hague for a second edition. 'The IamExpat Fair is designed for both new arrivals and established expats who want to discover something new or find answers to questions that have been bugging them for some time!,' says co-organiser Nikos Nakos. 'For example, finding time to make an appointment with a mortgage or financial advisor, can seem daunting, but here we've got them all under one roof,' says his colleague Panos Sarlanis. Indeed, the event is a great opportunity to find everything you need in one location, on one day....  More >

Multilingual recruitment comes of age

Twenty years ago Maureen Adam launched her own recruitment company from her home in Edam. Since then the company has blossomed, but the recruitment industry has changed enormously as well, as Robin Pascoe found out. ‘I came to Holland in 1991 and I really struggled to find a job. The Netherlands was in the middle of a recession and it was at a time when you went to an agency and there were notices on the door stating “if you can’t speak Dutch, don’t come in”,’ says Maureen Adam, sitting on a bench in the sun in Westerpark, close to the company’s Amsterdam offices. ‘Then I found a job working in customer services and everyone working there was an international. So I thought “hang on a minute, there is work for people who don’t speak Dutch”.’ It was not, however, until a few months and another job later, that Maureen decided to take the plunge. Adams Multilingual Recruitment was born. “I’d worked in recruitment in London and Hong Kong and I thought...  More >

Mata Hari returns to Friesland

Who could blame the Dutch for focusing on the glamour and intrigue that surrounds their most unlikely heroine? It is not often, after all, that one of their own becomes an international by-word for sex and scandal. But now Mata Hari is back in the spotlights. The Friesland Museum has mounted an exhibition which highlights not only Mata Hari the dancer, mistress, and – alleged – spy but Margaretha Zelle the wife and mother. It is a 100 years since Margaretha Zelle, alias Mata Hari, was executed by the French for being a German spy. There was never any conclusive proof she was seducing high ranking officers into divulging military secrets but the Dutch beauty moved in military circles as the Great War was in progress and during that uncertain time rumours flew. According to Friesland Museum curator Hans Groeneweg the French arrested Mata Hari on a trumped-up charge. ‘Things were dire at the front in 1917, with one mutiny after another. Generals came and went in quick succession,...  More >

Stedelijk show explores native foreigners

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam continues its exploration of the theme of migration with a new exhibition, I am a Native Foreigner. Deborah Nicholls-Lee  went along to check it out. ‘We’re all foreigners,’ says Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum. ‘It’s an experience we all share, in a way. Even if you travel for a holiday, you experience displacement in relation to other contexts.’ The Stedelijk’s latest exhibition I am a Native Foreigner offers a 13-gallery exploration of the theme of migration and showcases photographs, textiles, paintings, installations, recordings and films from multi-national artists. The oxymoronic title is taken from a quote by Mexican conceptual artist Ulises Carrión (1941-1989), whose work features in the exhibition. A migrant himself, he moved to the Netherlands in his thirties and experienced first hand this duality. Not at home ‘As an artist, you do not always feel at home,’ explains Leontine Coelewij, the...  More >