Friday 22 November 2019

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.

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 >


Impotent ministers, impotent MPs and impotent voters: Wynia’s week

Impotent ministers, impotent MPs and impotent voters: Wynia’s week

In the Netherlands governments govern as if elections and even new cabinets are just by the by. It’s diversity and sustainability galore and anyone who dares criticise Brussels is a populist. Where can a voter find refuge these days? asks Syp Wynia. Who wouldn’t want to be a minister? A nice, chauffeur-driven car, a ministry at your beck and call and a weekly outing to the Trêveszaal, the most beautiful place for a parliamentary get-together ever. But does a minister... More >


Dutch climate agreement flawed, cabinet must do better

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... More >


Wynia’s Week: 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... More >


Wynia’s Week: Klaas Dijkhoff’s yellow vest is losing its 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... More >


The Netherlands not too small to make big climate effort: D66

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... More >