Cabinet must do better on climate

Dutch climate agreement flawed, cabinet must do better Economists Willem Vermeend and Rick van der Ploeg say a carbon tax is inevitable to save a flawed climate agreement. In December 2015 195 countries and the EU signed up to the Paris climate agreement, committing themselves to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century compared to 1990 levels. To achieve this the global net total of emissions of greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide in particular, would have to be practically zero in the second half of this century. China (30%), the United States (15%) and the EU (10%) are responsible for over half of current global CO2 emissions. The Dutch emissions level is around 0.4% but this country’s per capita emissions rate is higher than the European average. The Paris agreement also stipulated that it is up to the individual countries themselves to choose which measures they implement to achieve the climate goals. Recent calculations have shown that CO2 emissions are still increasing and that...  More >

Podcast: The Barefoot Refugees Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Barefoot Refugees Edition – Week 4 Dirty money and clean air are the hot topics on this week's podcast as the government is warned it won't meet the targets for CO2 emissions in the Urgenda ruling, while coming under pressure to tighten its fiscal rules to stop tax money flowing out of the country and organised criminals flowing in. In sport Frenkie de Jong celebrates his big-money transfer to Barcelona by leaking four goals to Heerenveen. And the controversial Oostvaardersplassen cull proves to be a big hit with lovers of venison. In our discussion we look at how the coalition has once again snagged itself on the thorny issue of asylum. Ophef of the week: Former soldier shoots down Baudet over 'cute' remarks in Parliament Kamerlid @HankeBruinsSlot schattig? “Toen @thierrybaudet in zijn studentenkamer zat, was ik militair” 💪🏻 #defensiedebat — CDA (@cdavandaag) January 22, 2019 Top story Government even further from meeting Urgenda targets than previously...  More >

The pope, the bishop and sister Urgenda

Wynia’s Week: The pope, the bishop and sister Urgenda Climate change in the Netherlands has become a matter of faith, says columnist Syp Wynia. Forum, the magazine of business lobbyists VNO-NCW, published an interview with Alliander energy boss Ingrid Thijssen recently. As Alliander provides a third of the Netherlands with gas and electricity you would be right to expect the interview to focus on this activity but no, its themes were guilt and atonement. Ingrid Thijssen personifies the way the Netherlands looks at gas and electricity: not as energy but as transitional phenomena on the road to Paradise or the Promised Land. Ingrid Thijssen makes it abundantly clear that she is carrying a heavy burden of responsibility. Not in the sense of having to deliver the best service at the lowest price to her customers but to her grandchildren when, in 2050, they ask her : ‘Grandma, what did you do during the transition?’ Energy transition She is not so much worried about the coming of the energy transition – she envisages...  More >

'This tiny country has 400 plus museums'

‘There are more than 400 museums in this tiny country’ Dual national Abbie Vandivere (Canadian and British) gets to work with some of the Netherlands' most precious paintings, as a conservator at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. In the Netherlands for 13 years, she would like to have a party at Jan Steen’s family tavern, and invite Hieronymus Bosch and Johannes Vermeer to join in. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I’ve always been fascinated by Dutch Old Master paintings, and I came here in 2005 for an internship at a museum. Now I’m a paintings conservator: I restore 16th and 17th-century paintings at the Mauritshuis, and I teach technical art history at the University of Amsterdam. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc? I proudly refer to myself as an allochtoon. If this word is used (negatively) to describe a certain type of person who moves to the Netherlands, then I want to reclaim it. How long do you plan to stay and why? I’ve lived in Canada, the US and England, but...  More >

Find your community at the international Feel at Home Fair

Find your community at the international Feel at Home Fair The Feel at Home Fair is the biggest gathering of the international community in the Netherlands. Over 4,000 people, representing more than 100 nationalities, come together in The Hague's city hall to share their experience of life in Holland. The Feel at Home Fair is known for the special warmth and atmosphere which it brings to The Hague every winter. The fair is a one-stop shop for help with everything from buying a house or choosing a school, to finding a sports club or even building a business. Just as importantly, it is a meeting point and fun day out for the whole community! ‘Sport, for example,  is a great way of getting people together because language and cultural barriers are more easily overcome by a shared interest,’ says fair organiser Billy Allwood. ‘Being active also contributes to our sense of health and well-being, while belonging to a club or participating in events gives us an important sense of belonging somewhere.’ All interests and pastimes Around...  More >

Key facts about Rembrandt, 350 years on

Rembrandt died 350 years ago this year: some key facts about his life Rembrandt van Rijn died 350 years ago this year and museums all over the land are commemorating the event. Here are some key facts about the Netherlands’ greatest – and most lucrative – old master. His early years Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in the Weddesteeg in Leiden on July 15th 1606. The 17th century building is no more but a plaque marks the approximate spot. Leiden remained his home for the next 25 years and while among his many siblings there is a baker and a cobbler, Rembrandt chose a different trade, that of painter. Painters belonged to the same guild as house painters and, on average, earned around twice as much as carpenters. Where he lived After studying with local painter Jacob van Swanenborgh, Rembrandt went to Amsterdam to study composition with Pieter Lastman. After six months he returned to Leiden to set up shop for himself. His reputation as an etcher and painter grew and his work started to sell. By 1631 it was time to go back to Amsterdam...  More >

Podcast: The Blame David Cameron Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Blame David Cameron Edition – Week 3 It may be winter outside, but there's been plenty to get hot under the collar about on the news front this week. Amsterdam's most infamous neighbourhood gets a less than clean bill of health, party leaders turn up the heat on the climate change deal and showbiz star Gordon (no relation) sees red over a spicy TV review. We also bring you the results of the Ophef of the Year vote, hot off the press, and discuss the ongoing nuclear meltdown that is the Brexit saga. Ophef of the week: Gordon's online tirade against with TV reviewer goes viral TOP STORY Amsterdam's red light district clean-up needs proper plan, says ombudsman Election campaign heats up as coalition leaders clash over climate deal Syp Wynia: Klaas Dijkhoff's yellow vest is losing its lustre Teachers plan nationwide strike on March 15 over pay and workload Government attempts to compile list of definitive Dutch icons SPORT Kramer wins 10th European skating title as Schulting claims short track...  More >

'Corporate lunch stereotypes are true'

‘I’ve frequently encountered the traditional sad raft of floppy Dutch broodjes’ Amsterdammer and comedian Greg Shapiro is 50 and has lived in the Netherlands for over half his life. He likes cooking boerenkool stamppot, would like to meet several Dutch kings who share the name Willem, and is surprised by how little Dutch people know about Het Plakkaat van Verlatinghe. How did you end up in the Netherlands? It was the Boom Chicago comedy theatre that hired me to perform in Amsterdam for just one summer.... That was 24 years ago. A few years into my time in Amsterdam – the same year Seth Meyers came to work at Boom Chicago – I met the love of my life, a Dutch woman. She was very direct. She said ‘We’re getting married.’ I said 'yes'. We toyed with the idea of living in the US. One year, I took her to meet my family in Chicago for Christmas. And then we stayed on a bit, in January, in Chicago. I guess I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to move to a climate where – if you don’t wear the right clothes to go outside – you’d die.     How do...  More >

Dijkhoff's yellow vest is losing lustre

Wynia’s Week: Klaas Dijkhoff’s yellow vest is losing its lustre VVD stalwart Klaas Dijkhoff told the Telegraaf newspaper this weekend that he could not support the cabinet's climate agreement which was sealed at the end of last year. Despite the apparent split, Columnist Syp Wynia does not believe the coalition is in trouble. Klaas Dijkhoff, who leads the VVD in parliament, opened election year 2019 by launching a broadside on climate change ‘moaners’, including coalition partner D66’s Rob Jetten. Dijkhoff told the Telegraaf he did not feel bound by the climate agreement the cabinet entered into with a number of companies and organisations. Dijkhoff now thinks the ‘common man’ has had too little say in the matter and that there is no need for the Netherlands ‘to become a beacon of light for the rest of the world’. The VVD’s second in command, in so many words, is threatening to topple Mark Rutte's third cabinet. ‘If it’s a choice between the cabinet and the interests of ordinary citizens, I will always be on the side...  More >

DutchNews Podcast – The Bonfire of the Ophefs Edition – Week 2

DutchNews Podcast – The Bonfire of the Ophefs Edition – Week 2 The podcast returns after the Christmas holidays to blaze a trail through the opening week of the year. We ask why a 48-metre bonfire on a beach on a windy night surprised the authorities by setting things on fire, whether internationals are really responsible for Amsterdam's sizzling hot housing market, and what British nationals in the Netherlands can do if they want to escape the firestorm of Brexit. In our discussion we choose our 10 favourite social media micro-infernos in the inaugural Ophef of the Year Awards. Ophef of the week: Royal art collection goes under the hammer in London TOP STORY Number of arrests and injuries at New Year falls again NEWS Government to allow most British nationals to stay after Brexit even with no deal Brexit will cost Netherlands €34 bn in first 12 years and other dismal statistics Socialists revive calls for action to stop expats 'displacing' Amsterdammers VVD in Amsterdam calls for debate on expat numbers Discussion:...  More >

Why Dutch entrepreneurs need to know SEO

Why Dutch entrepreneurs need to know how to do SEO Thousands of people in the Netherlands, including readers, are online entrepreneurs. But what do all of these people have in common? They develop and promote their business through a website. However, not everyone's website gets visitors from search engines. We’re going to let you in on a secret, but to do that, we need to dive into the mysterious world of SEO. As you may know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is basically a method that ensures that your website gets on the radar of search engines like Google or Bing and is then displayed on their search results for relevant queries. Just imagine, according to the Internet Live Statistics, Google processes over 40 000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Why your website appears in search results and what position it occupies Let's assume, you have a website (or are planning to have one) and you’ve...  More >

NL not to small to make big climate effort

The Netherlands not too small to make big climate effort: D66 With just 11 years to halve CO2 emissions, the draft climate agreement presented on the threshold of 2019 came not a day too soon. But defeatism is rearing its ugly head, says D66 parliamentary party leader Rob Jetten. The recent agreement bore all the hallmarks of Dutch ‘poldering’. There is no country in the world that includes so many parties and interests in the quest for a broad consensus. Hundreds of experts, social organisations, unions, and energy companies gathered around the negotiating table. Left wing leaders Diederik Samsom and Kees Vendrik worked cheek by jowl with former VVD leader Ed Nijpels on hundreds of measures to combat climate change. The last week of the year saw another typically Dutch phenomenon. Before the financial implications of the agreement could even be determined, opposition parties and opinion makers from left to right went into full attack mode. Their criticisms were partly aimed at the role of industry but then a new argument came...  More >

Blogwatching: Best restaurants 2018

Blogwatching: 10 best restaurants in Amsterdam – the 2018 Edition British by birth and Dutch by choice, Vicky Hampton, aka the Amsterdam Foodie, is a writer, cook and avid foodie who has lived and worked in Amsterdam since 2006.  Every December since 2014, I’ve looked back on my favourite restaurants of the year in Amsterdam. Not necessarily newly opened – but new for me. Usually, I base the list on my Restaurants of the Month – a revolving selection I make (unsurprisingly) once a month. But this year, for various reasons, a few of these restaurants no longer seem appropriate for this list – either they were temporary and have now closed down, or they’ve been replaced by something (to my mind) better. So for my 2018 list of best restaurants in Amsterdam, around half came from this year’s Restaurants of the Month, while the other half I discovered before or since. Also important to note: this list is not meant to be exhaustive. Firstly, because there are still a great many fantastic restaurants in Amsterdam that I’ve...  More >

Nijntje is Miffy in Des Moines

Nijntje is Miffy, not Fluffy and she’s also a statue in Des Moines What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband for six months, while your wife works in a high powered job? Visiting columnist Joe Weeg has been exploring his neighbourhood. Part 2: Miffy Henriette Priester is helping me learn Dutch during my stay in the Netherlands. Not such a big deal, one would think. I figured that with the right motivation and a little time I could learn just about any language. French in a weekend? C’est moi, mon cher. German before noon? Hah! Before you can say Ich bin ein Berliner. Learn Dutch over a couple of months? Please. I go Dutch all the time. Henriette is the wife of a husband/wife team that runs the gym, Absolutely Fit, in The Hague. She is a mother to many of us in the gym, she has her own adult children, and now has three grandchildren. Henriette knows how to teach. She began my informal Dutch lessons by only speaking Dutch to me. 'Hoe gaat het?' Henriette says very slowly with a lot of hand gestures. Cleverly,...  More >

The traditional Dutch bike is English

Traditional Dutch bikes: sit up straight, back-pedal brakes and a ring lock Dutch bicycles are a cultural icon and the classic Dutch bike has changed little in design for over 100 years. Joshua Parfitt finds out what makes them so enduring. The toilets at the National Bicycle Museum Velorama, in Nijmegen, are gendered. Any long-time resident of the Netherlands would quickly figure out the game: the diamond-frame bicycle is the men’s, the step-through-frame bicycle is the women’s. With or without a step-through frame, Dutch bikes are instantly recognisable. But ‘Dutch bike’ is actually misnomer. In the Netherlands the women’s version of this bike is known as an omafiets (‘grandma bike’), a men’s is known as an opafiets (‘grandpa bike’), and collectively they are called stadsfietsen (‘city bikes’). However, the English translation of stadsfiets however is not ‘city bike’ nor ‘Dutch bike’; it’s the English roadster. Yes - the traditional Dutch bike was English in origin. In 1895, 85% of bicycles traded in the Netherlands...  More >

11 great things to do in January

From black activism to blue movies: 11 great things to do in January So another year has gone by. We are all older and probably no wiser - especially those with a New Year hangover. Here are some jolly outings to escape the post festivity blues. Listen to the music The elegantly restored Oosterkerk in Amsterdam ushers in the new year with its annual New Year's concert performed by the 't Hart family and friends. They will be playing Bach, Brahms, Szymanowski and Shostakovich. It's free but a contribution would be appreciated. January 1, 12pm. Website Catch a Caravaggio The exhibition Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe does exactly what it says on the tin: it examines the influence of  Caravaggio’s brand of exuberant realism on Utrecht painters Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst and other European painters. The Centraal Museum in Utrecht has persuaded the Vatican to temporarily part with two Caravaggios. The monumental Entombment of Christ (form December 16 until January 16) and St Jerome in Meditation have...  More >

10 ways to celebrate New Year

10 ways to celebrate New Year in the Netherlands New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands is celebrated in a most untypically over-the-top  way. Here are 10 things you must do to fit right in. 1. Buy fireworks – lots of them and enormous ones – if you have not smuggled them in from Belgium or Eastern Europe months ago. You can only buy fireworks on December 29, 30 and 31 - and for some reason, garages seem to be popular licenced stockists. Start setting off your fireworks well before 6pm on December 31, which is when you are officially allowed to do so. Frighten dogs 2. Listen to the final fifty or so entries in Radio 2’s Top2000 which, for some bizarre reason, is listened to by millions of people every year and won every year (almost) by Queen’s Bohemiam Rhapsody. 3. Watch whichever comedian is giving this year’s televised Oudejaarsconference – a long and winding monologue wrapping up the year. 4. Buy an oudejaarslot – a lottery ticket – in the hope of winning €30 million. You and 17 million other people. 5....  More >

7 tips to keep your health premiums low

Seven tips to keep your health insurance premium to a minimum Health insurance premiums are rising by an average of €80 a year in 2019. Shopping for a new policy definitely pays off, considering the large premium gaps between insurance companies. But what things should you consider when comparing insurance providers?   Here's a list of seven tips to help keep your insurance premium as low as possible: 1 Consider a budget policy Budget policies are generally cheaper than the standard policies and will save you about €5 a month. The budget policy is similar to a natura policy in terms of cover. This means policy holders may undergo treatment in hospitals and clinics with which the insurance company has a contract. However, a budget policy has a much more limited selection of hospitals and clinics and if you decide to go elsewhere, you will have to pick up part of the bill yourself. Therefore, when your GP refers you to a hospital, it is important to check if that particular hospital is covered. Good to know: if you need emergency...  More >

Winter walks to work off Christmas dinner

Make the most of the Dutch countryside – a few winter walks The Dutch are keen on walking and the countryside is riddled with signposted walks to encourage you to get out and about. Here's a few suggestions to help you walk off the effect of all that festive food. De Rijp - 7 to 22 km The pretty village of De Rijp in Noord Holland is famous as a place to go boating, but it also offers several walks past tiny villages and, outside the breeding season, across fields into the big wide open. Pick up a map at the VVV in the heart of the village. De Rijp has plenty of choice for lunch at the end or start of your walk. Website Zwanenwater - 4.5 km In Noord-Holland province close to the Callantsoog seaside village, Zwanenwater is a small nature reserve. The walk takes you through birch woods and over dunes around the edge of the lake, with a stop-off at a bird hide. In the spring, the grass is full of purple orchids. Website De Zilk - 9.4 km There are lots of signposted walks in the dunes west of Amsterdam but this is our favourite. It's...  More >

'The Evenings', a Dutch Christmas classic

Why is ‘The Evenings’ a Dutch Christmas classic? Set in the period from Christmas to New Year 1946, The Evenings (De Avonden) is considered a classic of Dutch literature. Molly Quell wonders why De Avonden is so important and if you should read it. You could say The Evenings is about nothing, and nothing happens. The novel follows Frits van Egters, a 23-year-old office clerk living in Amsterdam and covers 10 days from December 22 to December 31 1946. Van Egters is bored, dissatisfied with his life and channels that unhappiness into obsessive behavior and, often, into being a jerk. Written by Dutch master Gerard Reve when he was just 24, The Evenings is divided into 10 chapters, each focusing on a day in Van Egters’ world. He lives with his parents in the Diamantbuurt, a poor neighbourhood which was built in the 1920s to house labourers. At the time of the novel, the country is recovering from the war, there are few entertainment options and Van Egters spends most of his time in the evenings getting bored. The book 'The...  More >