Monday 22 July 2019

Opinion pieces, columns and insights into Dutch news and current affairs from key commentators

Wynia’s Week: How Máxima paves the way for Mark

Wynia’s Week: How Máxima paves the way for Mark

What is the link between Jamal Kashoggi, queen Máxima and the international prestige of the Netherlands? It’s something to do with a visit to the Obamas  in 2009 but most of all it’s the Máxima factor, writes commentator Syp Wynia.  The country almost had an apoplectic fit last week when queen Máxima was photographed in Japan having a quiet chat with Saudi heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman, who is often regarded as the de facto ruler. The queen,... More >


Dutch royal visit to Ireland included a brave gesture of respect

Dutch royal visit to Ireland included a brave gesture of respect

King Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima were in Ireland for the three day visit last week. And in one meeting, they stretched the bounds of diplomacy, writes Peter Cluskey. The most valuable work of state visits such as the one by the Dutch royal couple to Ireland last week is often done well away from the glamour by trade delegations and foreign ministry officials. But rarely is high-level diplomacy used to reach out in as personal a way as this visit... More >


The wolf is back, let it not die out a second time

The wolf is back, let it not die out a second time

Peaceful co-existence between wolves and sheep farmers is possible, says regional director Europe at International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Joep van Mierlo. It was Omroep Gelderland that bagged the scoop on May 19th: a wolf pair had settled in the Netherlands for the first time in over a century. The two were spotted in the Veluwe national park. The news was greeted with whoops of delight by many but the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is afraid that... More >


Why international newspapers reported the death of Noa Pothoven as ‘euthanasia’…when it wasn’t

Why international newspapers reported the death of Noa Pothoven as ‘euthanasia’…when it wasn’t

When the phone rang on a Tuesday afternoon with a blocked number, I knew it was London. Sure enough, The Daily Telegraph had been calling me, asking me to check out a story. Even to the English news editor, who doesn’t speak the tricky language of Dutch, there was something off about the unbylined, 12-paragraph story from the Central European News agency. ‘This depressed 17-year-old girl who was raped as a young child and who felt she could no longer... More >


Wynia’s Week: Refugees need to work before they get settled in

Wynia’s Week: Refugees need to work before they get settled in

  The government’s strategy to get refugees into work needs an overhaul, says columnist Syp Wynia. Some four years ago, a wave of asylum seekers, among whom many Syrians, reached Western European shores to the reassuring noises of a few well-known Dutch personalities and various people in authority. Syrians, they said, were highly educated and would be an asset to Dutch society. The highest asylum centre chief predicted ‘an enormous empowerment for the Netherlands’. On the whole, in reality Syrians... More >


Wynia’s Week: The Dutch EU election results are not European

Wynia’s Week: The Dutch EU election results are not European

Populist parties were wiped out and the PvdA topped the polls, but it would be easy to be wrong-footed by the Dutch results of the EU elections, writes columnist Syp Wynia. In last week’s European elections, the PvdA bagged the biggest win while the CDA and VVD managed a decent score. The populist parties on the left and right (SP and PVV) were wiped out and Forum voor Democratie got fewer votes than expected. GroenLinks won and D66 lost. It... More >


Free Morgan Foundation in court again in fight for wild orca

Free Morgan Foundation in court again in fight for wild orca

On Wednesday, the highest Dutch administrative court will hear legal arguments in the case of the wild-born orca know as Morgan, who was captured in the Wadden Sea and now languishes in Spanish tourist attraction. The Dutch government is to blame for her plight, say Matthew Spiegl and Dr Ingrid N Visser. Infringement of EU law  – including wildlife law – undermines the very foundation of the union. When acts of infringement are alleged, they must be acknowledged, addressed and... More >


Wynia’s Week: taxation and inflation – citizens are out of pocket

Wynia’s Week: taxation and inflation – citizens are out of pocket

The Dutch government knows how to look after itself but is leaving its citizens out of pocket, writes commentator Syp Wynia. The third Mark Rutte-led government is still failing to deliver on spending power.  Supermarket prices and energy bills are rising faster than wages. Taxes have been mounting to a record high, resulting in budget surpluses and rapidly diminishing government debt. Meanwhile the economy is showing signs of fatigue before people have even started to enjoy the fruits of its... More >


Moroccans are doing very well despite useless integration policy: D66

Moroccans are doing very well despite useless integration policy: D66

Despite a worse than useless integration policy, young Dutch Moroccans are doing very well in the Netherlands, write D66 parliamentary party chairman Rob Jetten and integration spokesman Jan Paternotte. It is 50 years ago this week that the Netherlands and Morocco signed to a special deal regulating the migration of Moroccan workers to the Netherlands. Despite a completely inadequate integration policy, integration has been a resounding success as the new and successful generation of Moroccans shows. Although three quarters of... More >


Organic food scandal highlights farmer and inspection failures

Organic food scandal highlights farmer and inspection failures

This week broadcaster RTL found that hundreds of Dutch organic food producers were being allowed to sell their products as organic, even though they did not meet all the rules. Organic expert Hugo Skoppek says the findings are a national scandal. I am simply shocked. Nothing in life is 100%, but the fact that RTL investigators found hundreds of ‘organic’ products on sale that do not fully comply with the regulations for organic food in the Netherlands is indeed scandalous.... More >


To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day: Why I am proud to be stubborn

To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day: Why I am proud to be stubborn

This grainy photography of a Dutch farming family is a testament to the stubbornness that led to a small boy being saved from the Nazi death camps. Adrianus van de Berg knocked hard on the table. The village priest in front of him retreated in panic. Van de Berg was stubborn. He had stubbornness that was born out of countless Dutch raining mornings at the farm. ‘The boy stayed here because I said so – and so it will be,’... More >


Universal suffrage is not so universal in the Netherlands

Universal suffrage is not so universal in the Netherlands

Not all taxpayers in the Netherlands are created equal and much needs to be done to ensure everyone has the right to vote, say Sally Wyatt and Hans Radder. With the provincial elections just behind us and the European elections around the corner, analyses and articles abound. But there is one issue that hardly ever makes the news: that of suffrage. The right to vote, and to be voted for, is an essential part of democracy. Universal suffrage is the... More >


Wynia’s Week: The creaking ‘party cartel’ is about to croak

Wynia’s Week: The creaking ‘party cartel’ is about to croak

Thierry Baudet’s frequent mention of ‘the party cartel’ has finally wiped the smile of the said cartel. If the three ‘people’s parties (VVD, CDA, PvdA and perhaps D66) can be considered ‘the cartel’ then it is losing power fast. The traditional parties still have a finger in every pie but as their support declines, that is bound to change. The fact that these parties are falling out of favour was never more obvious than in the last provincial elections. The... More >


Going Dutch in Amsterdam was a humbling experience

Going Dutch in Amsterdam was a humbling experience

In February DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe became Dutch. Not because she wanted to or because she felt that the time was right. She became Dutch because of Brexit. I am, immigration department figures show, one of hundreds of British nationals who are taking Dutch nationality in response to Britain’s crazed decision to leave the EU. For me it was a straightforward process. My husband is Dutch and we have been married for 30 years, so I can use the optieregeling... More >


‘Mass immigration’ says more about the people who use the term

‘Mass immigration’ says more about the people who use the term

Define your terms and don’t fudge the facts about immigration, says Leiden professor Leo Lucassen. One of the spectres conjured up by Thierry Baudet in the last few weeks is that of ‘mass immigration’. It is a menace to the Netherlands and Europe, Baudet told voters but what the Forum voor Democratie leader meant exactly remained unclear. Should we count Germans, Americans and Poles or is he just referring to those who are destroying our wonderful European culture? In other... More >


Wynia’s Week: How to make housing problems worse by making them better

Wynia’s Week: How to make housing problems worse by making them better

The lack of housing has become one of the biggest social issues during Mark Rutte’s period as prime minister. But subsidies and over-regulation, as mooted by the government and Amsterdam, will not help, says Syp Wynia. When the economy nose-dived some 10 years ago building activity was given a small boost but petered out under subsequent Rutte governments as the crisis deepened. Cut backs and higher taxes meant the building sector was hit heavily, with local councils halting construction on... More >


After his senate win, give Thierry Baudet a chance to take responsibility

After his senate win, give Thierry Baudet a chance to take responsibility

Thierry Baudet has been able to capitalise on government laxity, despite the fact the country is doing well. So now the cabinet excludes Baudet at its peril, say economists Willem Vermeend and Rick van der Ploeg . The latest figures show the Dutch economy is one of the best performing in Europe. Growth figures are looking healthy, unemployment is low and government finances are in tip top shape. The Netherlands also ranks among the top 10 of European countries for... More >


Wynia’s Week: Let Mark Rutte go to Brussels, if they want him, that is.

Wynia’s Week: Let Mark Rutte go to Brussels, if they want him, that is.

Mark Rutte is doing everything in his power to please in case he is offered a top job in Brussels. If they want him and if he is willing – which would be sensible – CDA and D66 mustn’t stand in his way, writes Syp Wynia. During the first RTL election debate of 2019, Klaas Dijkhoff, chair of the VVD parliamentary party, let slip a couple of times that after ‘Rutte Three’ there would be a ‘Rutte Four’. Dijkhoff had... More >


Save the postal service by writing a love letter

Save the postal service by writing a love letter

How to keep the postman safe in the era of e-mail? Put pen to paper and write a love letter, advises economist Mathijs Bouman. This is what I fished out of my No-bestickered post box this morning: a letter from a solar panel seller, a folder from a web shop in office supplies and a blue envelope from the tax office. The first two immediately end up in the paper recycling bin while I swear to myself never to buy... More >


Employers who can’t find staff need to up their pay rates

Employers who can’t find staff need to up their pay rates

  Employers who can’t attract staff need to stop advertising and start paying, says economist Mathijs Bouman. I’m sorry employers of the Netherlands but you are still not getting the message. At every congress and event in the land you tell me how important it is to conquer new markets, embrace new technologies and, especially, how essential it is to put the customer first. Customer service, that’s what it’s all about for growing companies. But customers are not your problem... More >