Tuesday 17 September 2019

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

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 >


Nijntje is Miffy, not Fluffy and she’s also a statue 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... More >


‘The threat to Dutch in higher education is no idle chitchat’

‘The threat to Dutch in higher education is no idle chitchat’

In the garden of higher education, Dutch is being weeded out. It’s alarming that the education minister seems oblivious to the demise of Dutch in higher education, say Annette de Groot, Erik Jurgens, Jean Pierre Rawie and Ad Verbrugge. The language policy of education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven is like a garden where English is allowed to bloom unhindered while Dutch is withering on the vine. In a recent radio-interview with journalist Frits Spits the increasing influence of English in... More >


Parents, are you as bad at Sinterklaas as I am?

Parents, are you as bad at Sinterklaas as I am?

So, Sinterklaas is back in the Netherlands and the count-down to December 5 is well and truly underway. After numerous debacles, Deborah Nicholls-Lee thinks she’s got the hang of celebrating Sinterklaas with her kids. But has she? When the pepernoten appear in Dutch stores at the end of the summer, I usually chime in with the moaning. Not this year. Succeeding during Sinterklaas is all about preparation. I know this from experience: last year was a shambles. The intocht (Sint’s... More >


Citizens’ rights should be guaranteed, regardless of Brexit

Citizens’ rights should be guaranteed, regardless of Brexit

European leaders should guarantee the rights of British and Dutch nationals alike ahead of Brexit, say D66 MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld and MP Kees Verhoeven. The spectre of failed Brexit negotiations between the EU and Britain means that the status of millions of people at risk. Will they be unceremoniously kicked out of the country between now and a year’s time? Can they keep their jobs? It is high time assurances were put in place for these people now that... More >


The social partners have done talking, time for politicians to take action

The social partners have done talking, time for politicians to take action

The social partners have mulled over all the main issues in the government accord. So now it’s time for the government to take decisive action, says economist Mathijs Boumans. In March 2017 we went to the polls. In October, following the longest formation period in history, we had a cabinet. We are now a year into a new government but we are still not really being governed. Voters have no idea where the country is headed. Of course there is... More >


Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree

Universities partly blamed for downturn in Dutch as a language degree

Dutch is no longer a popular choice for prospective students but universities are partly to blame, says Lotte Jensen, professor of Dutch cultural and literary history at Radboud University in Nijmegen. In recent weeks newspapers have been reporting on the alarming decline in the number of young people opting to study Dutch at university level. It is a worrying development which, if the trend continues, could land Dutch in the department of minority foreign languages. There are several reasons why... More >


ING takes the money and the biscuit, says VVD MP

ING takes the money and the biscuit, says VVD MP

Society has nothing to apologise for but ING does, says VVD MP Roald van der Linde, who is the party’s financial markets spokesman in parliament. ‘It’s MPs who are fuelling public mistrust,’ said Henk Breukink, a member of the supervisory board at ING, in a recent opinion piece in the Financieele Dagblad. When I read this I nearly fell off my chair and I don’t think I can have been the only one. For years ING has looked the other... More >