Tuesday 20 August 2019

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

Thou shalt live a healthy life

Thou shalt live a healthy life

The government is telling us to lead healthy lives but who handed over the pulpit to the authorities? Mind your own business and let people worry about their own salvation, says Patrick van Schie.   Not a week goes by without some newspaper article telling us that scientists have found that a certain food is harmful – or beneficial – to our health. The effects of exercise – how much, what type – are also explored in detail. Those who... More >


Fight radicalisation but stay cool (and tolerant)

Fight radicalisation but stay cool (and tolerant)

Amsterdammers must fight intolerance without becoming intolerant, says the city’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan. A week and a half from now, on November 2, it will be 10 years to the day since film maker and television presenter Theo van Gogh was murdered. Much has happened in Amsterdam since that sad event but lately it seems as if we’ve come full circle. Tensions in the city are growing and radicalisation has become much more visible because of the recent... More >


Share value of a hospital? Between 0 and a second home in France

Share value of a hospital? Between 0 and a second home in France

If the tax office has anything to do with it, medical specialists will have to become entrepreneurial. But that might jeopardise that second home in France, writes Barend van Lieshout. By January 1 self-employed medical specialists will have to choose between a contract with the hospital or a bigger financial share in the hospital. The tax office thinks the present structure for specialists isn’t entrepreneurial enough. Behind the scenes furious negotiations are taking place between specialists and hospital managers. The... More >


Uberpop is the solution, not the problem

Uberpop is the solution, not the problem

Uberpop is only doing what others have failed to do: promote competition, improve quality and lower prices, writes Dutch Uber general manager Niek van Leeuwen. The Dutch transport Inspectorate (ILT) thinks new private driver service Uberpop contravenes the law governing the transport of persons (WP2000). Uber disagrees. Not only does it disagree, it maintains that Uberpop is the only organisation which actually fulfils the main goals set out in WP2000. These include ‘strengthening the role of the taxi in the... More >


Fatal flaw in the benefits system

Fatal flaw in the benefits system

Many over fifties are playing a flawed benefits system and this means they are in no hurry to find a job, says Annemarie van Gaal. As unemployment figures are down slightly in the Netherlands, unemployment among the over-fifties is rising. Almost 200,000 older people are on unemployment benefits and half of them have been unemployed for more than a year. According to social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher, this presents ‘a grave and worrying problem’. Since last year Asscher has been... More >


Royals: thrifty or spendthrift?

Royals: thrifty or spendthrift?

It is fine to spend money on the king as a symbol for unity but not on the king as a man in need of a private jetty, writes D66 leader Alexander Pechtold. When queen Juliana visited a school in The Hague on the occasion of the centennial of the vocational education association those present noted she arrived in a smaller car than was her wont. The Ford Continental had been swapped for a more modest Ford Granada. At a... More >


What politicians should know about nuclear power

What politicians should know about nuclear power

The Netherlands has one nucleaer power station, at Borssele in Zeeland. Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma’s comment about a return to nuclear power shows he is not the brightest spark, says Jan Paul van Soest. Another politician, another not-so-bright idea. CDA leader Sybrand Buma recently launched a proposal to reconsider the use of nuclear energy in order to make the Netherlands less dependent on Russia. ‘We should not be afraid to talk about nuclear energy and consider a refurbishment of... More >


Air France-KLM: Come strike with me

Air France-KLM: Come strike with me

Air France-KLM pilots would rather run the company into the ground than consider its future welfare, writes Annemarie van Gaal. ‘Could I have a chat with you? I’m in debt and I don’t know what to do.’ The young woman standing in front of me is wearing the Utrecht Jaarbeurs uniform. We find a quiet place and she tells me her story: ‘I’m so deeply in debt I can’t see a way out.’ Pilot She is 29 years old, she... More >


Spud boutique

Spud boutique

Potatoes with a story from a pop-up spud boutique in Amsterdam (Jan Evertsenstraat 105/107): farmers are getting trendy, write Joris Lohman and Marjolein van Vucht. Livestock farmers are looking for alternative ways of selling their products and now other farmers are following suit. Your crowdfunded steak can now be accompanied by some tasty tats from a trendy pop-up potato shop. From chips to puree and from crisps to oven-baked potatoes – the Netherlands has a rich tradition of spuds in... More >


Beer anyone?

Beer anyone?

Heineken might not be up for sale, but shareholders deserve more transparency, writes Nyenrode Business Universiteit’s programme director Jan Maarten Slagter.     Freddy Heineken’s spirit was surely made manifest at the offices of Heineken’s advertising agency last week. The full-page advert which was printed in every Dutch newspaper on Saturday was a true homage to the man who made the company great and whose marketing sense was second to none. At the same time it was a declaration of... More >


Crowdfund a cow

Crowdfund a cow

Crowdfunding a cow is good for cows and customers, write Joris Lohman and Marjolein van Vucht. Now that consumer confidence is waning and the ‘more is better’ agricultural philosophy is on the way out, entrepreneurs are taking things into their own hands. A farmer who opens a Juice & Salad bar is not unusual, and there’s even the odd crowdfunding butcher. MRIJ COW NR 2438, Baambrugge. Comes in 10 kilo packages. Is grazing away peacefully as we speak. 69% of... More >


Dutch education goes for silver rather than gold

Dutch education goes for silver rather than gold

Dutch education goes for silver rather than gold and for good reason, writes INSEAD adjunt professor Annet Aris. The academic year at international business school Insead in Fontainebleau, France has started again. Some 500 new MBA students from around the world are attending their first lectures, getting acquainted with their peers and suffering the traditional good-humoured pranks of the older students. After a tough selection period of essays, tests and interviews they are visibly proud and excited to be here.... More >


Lose the attitude and learn Dutch

Lose the attitude and learn Dutch

Lived here for 10 years and still can’t speak Dutch? Get off your high horse and stop making excuses, says Canadian national Natasha Cloutier. Many unilingual English speakers try to learn Dutch while unconsciously and sometimes consciously acting superior to the Dutch because English is a dominant world language. Most Dutch people will switch to English whenever they can, reinforcing that dominance and making learning Dutch even harder. Both these things make switching from the ‘superior’ native speaker to the... More >


No place to hide

No place to hide

The Netherlands has played a leading role in ensuring war criminals don’t pass themselves off as refugees, writes Leslie Haskell of Human Rights Watch. In the 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Afghans fled to the Netherlands to escape the dire situation in their own country. But they weren’t the only ones who left. Senior government officials, including agents of the secret service – the dreaded KhAD – who had engaged in human rights violations also landed on... More >


Tax cut? What tax cut?

Tax cut? What tax cut?

This year’s budget was a mishmash of political spin and old news, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. As is usual every year, most of the main points of the budget had already been leaked or – like changes to student grants – were dressed up and presented as new policy. And as usual, ministers spoke about exercising caution and produced the traditional range of spending power estimates which always leave everyone wondering how the net impact of the budget will... More >


Be grateful and denounce IS?

Be grateful and denounce IS?

Why should ordinary Muslims be asked to denounce IS, ‘megaphone in hand’, asks Nourdine Tighadouini. Ahmed Aboutaleb is the first and only Dutch mayor so far to have a Moroccan background. That is something. To some this means that he should be first and foremost the mayor of the Rotterdam Muslims/Moroccans. That is odd. A mayor represents all the inhabitants of his city. Equally we do not expect him to go to the other extreme and put Muslim/Moroccan Rotterdammers at... More >


Sleepwalking into disaster

Sleepwalking into disaster

The members of the board at housing corporation Vestia were sleeping like babies while Erik Staal squandered billions in public money, writes Annemarie van Gaal. Let’s talk about housing corporation Vestia. Not about boss Erik Staal but about its board of directors, which was supposed to keep an eye on things but stood idly by while billions in taxpayers’ money were lost through speculation. Far from intervening it even congratulated Staal on a job well done. In 2012, on the... More >


Dangerous derivatives

Dangerous derivatives

(Semi)public organisations are dabbling in derivatives and it is storing up trouble for the future, writes Patrick van Gerwen. The public hearings held during the parliamentary inquiry into housing corporation practices have provided an additional insight into the use of interest rate derivatives by (semi) public organisations. This extremely risky interest rate product is proving popular with housing corporations, care organisations and local councils alike. The attraction lies in the fact that, initially, interest charges are low. But organisations may... More >



Flexible holidays

Flexible holidays

Many people would like to work flexible hours. But there are pitfalls, writes Annemarie van Gaal. The working week is no longer restricted to Monday to Friday, nine to five. Technology and the 24-hour economy enable us to work when and where we like. A recent survey by McKinsey showed that most people in the Netherlands would like a more flexible working week. Nearly half of the respondents would like to decide the number of hours they work and choose... More >