Friday 23 April 2021

Opinion pieces, columns and insights into Dutch news and current affairs from key commentators. The views expressed in these columns are the writers’ own. To contribute or request our guidelines, contact editor@dutchnews.nl.

Storm in a teacup: the Dutch are no good at political scandals

Storm in a teacup: the Dutch are no good at political scandals

As a country, the Netherlands is excellent at many things: cheese-making, playing football, creating fried bar snacks, freeing container ships from Egyptian canals. When it comes to political scandals, however, we’re awful, writes Ben Coates. In countries like the US, a major scandal might involve stolen nuclear secrets, illegal arms deals or crooked campaign contributions. In France, two former presidents have been found guilty of corruption within the last decade. And in Britain, the last week alone has seen the... More >


Dutch exceptionalism: Superior failure in the year of coronavirus

Dutch exceptionalism: Superior failure in the year of coronavirus

The Dutch are very fond of international comparisons if they come out well, but when it comes to coronavirus, they see the Netherlands’ position as one of  ‘superior failure’, writes Ben Coates. About a year ago, I became a Dutch citizen. In the age of corona, it was a strange experience: I cycled to the city hall through empty streets, with an ambulance siren wailing in the distance, then waited behind a glass screen for a while before being handed... More >


Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index 2020 reveals need to increase productivity through digital transformation

Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index 2020 reveals need to increase productivity through digital transformation

The Covid-19 pandemic has a deep impact on global economy and revealed the need for digitisation, as economic development all over the globe has taken a hit, says Mike Bai, strategy marketing, Western Europe, Huawei Technologies. Entire sectors like the service industry have shut down in a number of countries and the fragility of global supply chains has become apparent. The pandemic has also demonstrated the need for digitisation of both the public and private sectors to adjust business models,... More >


Out of the box: deposits would be the solution for cardboard chaos

Out of the box: deposits would be the solution for cardboard chaos

There is an easy solution to the cardboard chaos spilling across pavements in Dutch towns and cities, writes DutchNews.nl’s Robin Pascoe. If you’ve ever stopped to study the pile of cardboard boxes that inevitably pile up next to every waste bin across the country you can learn a lot about your neighbours. You will have neighbours who get their food delivered by Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon, you will have neighbours who seem to buy a new piece of flatpack... More >


A motor for digitisation: the EU’s Green Deal fosters a new era of sustainability in Europe

A motor for digitisation: the EU’s Green Deal fosters a new era of sustainability in Europe

From air pollution to waste management and global warming, the world is experiencing environmental degradation in many ways and technology is key to responding to the environmental crisis that we are facing, writes Jason Li, vice president of public affairs and communications, Western Europe, Huawei Technologies. The EU Commission has responded to the challenges of air pollution, waste management and global warming by presenting a long-term strategy. Under the umbrella of the European Green Deal, several initiatives will be aimed... More >


Huawei and European industry are natural partners

Huawei and European industry are natural partners

Together Huawei and European industry can address the challenges of a new emerging order, says Sophie Batas, director for cybersecurity at Huawei Europe. As the turbulent year of 2020 comes to an end, it is clear that the past months have been quite extraordinary for all of us. Even though we are starting to see the end of the tunnel with mass vaccinations soon to be underway all over the world, the pandemic continues to heavily impact our daily lives.... More >


Urk or Turk: the difference between national character and ethnicity

Urk or Turk: the difference between national character and ethnicity

If it had been the children of immigrants throwing fireworks at police, rather than youngsters in several Bible belt villages, the response would have been very different, says Leiden University professor Leo Lucassen. The events on New Year’s Eve and the days leading up to it demonstrated yet again that double standards are still rife in the Netherlands. Many criticised the Urker youngsters for going on the rampage but the explanation that was given for their violent and destructive behaviour... More >


Have yourself a merry little crisis Christmas (and a hopefully healthy New Year)

Have yourself a merry little crisis Christmas (and a hopefully healthy New Year)

Brandon Hartley has spent the last several months dealing with a mouse-infestation at his house when he’s not stuck on NS trains with canoodling couples. Needless to say, he’s very much looking forward to the end of the Covid 19 crisis. Here’s how his holiday season has been going. ‘Twas a week before Christmas, and all through the Netherlands, plenty of creatures were stirring, even the mice! I’m writing these words in my living room about a metre from where... More >


‘Indifference and ignorance are destroying small theatre venues’

‘Indifference and ignorance are destroying small theatre venues’

The government’s approach to helping the cultural sector through the coronavirus pandemic is sorely lacking, writes comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries. This article was really meant to be an explanation of why small theatres are so important in this country. But the very few words our prime minister Mark Rutte dedicates to art and culture during his press conferences have forced me to address him personally. I may use a small whip to bring the message home. I will begin... More >


Artificial Intelligence in the EU: balancing benefit and control

Artificial Intelligence in the EU: balancing benefit and control

When the president of the European Commission made her first speech to the European Parliament in December 2019, she officially recognised Artificial Intelligence as an area of strategic importance for the European Union. Nine months later, addressing once again the European Parliament in her maiden State of the Union speech”, she had moved from spelling out Artificial Intelligence to talking in terms of ‘AI’ – so well-known is the technology within the EU bubble now. This is not so surprising... More >


Euthanasia for people with dementia remains a minefield

Euthanasia for people with dementia remains a minefield

Granting people with dementia the right to ask for euthanasia when they are still capable of making the decision will free doctors from the task of taking the decision for them, says Klaas Rozemond, associate professor of criminal law at Amsterdam’s VU University. Once again, a medical disciplinary board has said the actions of a doctor involved in the euthanasia of a patient with dementia were negligent. On August 17 the Amsterdam disciplinary board decided that a doctor who works... More >


A tax cut for new home owners? First-time buyers should not start celebrating yet

A tax cut for new home owners? First-time buyers should not start celebrating yet

First-time buyers have been having a hard time of it of late, but they should not start celebrating the recent budget tax cut just yet, writes José de Boer, of financial consultants FVB De Boer. Last month the government published its 2021 spending plans which, at first sight, contained some good news for first-time buyers. Ministers have decided to scrap the transfer tax – overdrachtsbelasting – that everyone buying a home has to pay over the cost of the property.... More >


The government is underestimating the value of good interpreters and translators

The government is underestimating the value of good interpreters and translators

Professional interpreters and translators play an important role in courts and police investigations. However, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus’s decision to downgrade the professional requirements to ‘secondary school levels’, is not a good idea, says certified translator and interpreter Roemer Leushuis. International crime and the flow of refugees have led to a greater need for professional interpreters and translators. The Dutch government claims it is unable to meet that need. Is there really a lack of professionals, and if so, how... More >


This is a confession and apology to the First Mate of that KNSM ship

This is a confession and apology to the First Mate of that KNSM ship

DutchNews.nl receives a lot of correspondence from readers, sometimes looking for help in tracing lost relatives, sometimes to share experiences of the Netherlands in years gone by. But this email, from reader Joost Goedkoop in the US, is different. In the summers of 1965 and 1966 I worked on Dutch freighters sailing the Caribbean Seas. The shipping line, KNSM, had beautiful little freighters with routes from Amsterdam to NYC, that continued on to Miami, Puerto Rico, St Maartin, Curacao, Bonaire,... More >


The VVD may be leading in the polls, but the March elections are not a run race

The VVD may be leading in the polls, but the March elections are not a run race

The March elections are not a run race, says columnist Syp Wynia, and the current incumbent Mark Rutte may not last the course. As the country is coming out of lockdown, politicians are jostling for position for the next general elections in March, or perhaps sooner if the coalition should fall. Prime ministerMark Rutte looks to be in poll position but more than one politician has fallen at the last hurdle. At the moment Rutte is not even officially in... More >


The tourists have returned to Amsterdam and I’m back in an open relationship with my city.

The tourists have returned to Amsterdam and I’m back in an open relationship with my city.

During lockdown, Deborah Nicholls-Lee has enjoyed the peace and quiet in Amsterdam’s city centre. Now as the city opens up, she braces herself for change. I think I saw tourists the other day. A young couple in summer prints dragging large wheelie cases, pausing on the brow of a canal bridge to squint into a mobile phone. I’ve been surveying quiet, slumbering Amsterdam for tourists ever since the lockdown began to lift; eyeing suspiciously anyone cycling clumsily on matching bikes... More >


The Dutch need to stand their ground in Europe

The Dutch need to stand their ground in Europe

The coronavirus crisis is generating orgies of spending all over the world, including and particularly in Europe. Brussels is only too keen to get in on the act. It’s time the Dutch do what the Danes do, says columnist Syp Wynia. As other crises have shown, the cry of ‘the end of Europe’ is sure to end in more ‘Europe’ and more money and power for the offices and meeting rooms of Brussels, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Angela Merkel, who... More >


Hands off our constitutional rights, say SGP and D66 leaders

Hands off our constitutional rights, say SGP and D66 leaders

The SGP and D66 are not often on the same page but party leaders Kees van der Staaij and Rob Jetten agree on one thing: our constitutional rights have to be taken seriously, particularly in times of crisis. The near future has been named by prime minister Mark Rutte as ‘the new normal’. The question that immediately needs to be asked is: just how normal is this? We think the new normal is not normal at all, and, indeed, must... More >


A tribute to the Scheveningen surfers: And you are up. Dancing on top of the sea

A tribute to the Scheveningen surfers: And you are up. Dancing on top of the sea

In 2016, occasional columnist Joe Weeg was taught to surf by one of the five surfers killed in the sea on Monday. At the time, he wrote about Joost in a piece entitled Old Surfers on his blog, and we reproduce it here, as a tribute to the young men who died. Update 2020: Joe writes: ‘I am always troubled by young death — which I saw a lot of in my former life as a prosecutor either as murder... More >


Dutch economy: without proper steering, there will be trouble ahead

Dutch economy: without proper steering, there will be trouble ahead

The Dutch economy is heading for heavy weather if the government doesn’t promote the economy of tomorrow, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The Netherlands is one of the countries whose economy will be hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. Its open economy and dependence on now faltering trade are bringing economic shrinkage and soaring unemployment in its wake. More and more countries are taking measures to get their stagnant economies moving again. But while other EU... More >