Monday 22 July 2019

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

Leave the European Union? Here are three lessons for Nexiteers

Leave the European Union? Here are three lessons for Nexiteers

    People in the Netherlands who support the idea of a Nexit need a few lessons in reality, writes macro-economist Mathijs Bouman. They really do exist, the Dutch politicians who look at the UK and think: now why can’t we do that. Political chaos, ministers stepping down in droves, parties split down the middle, companies preparing to leave, the economy on hold and a derailed social debate. Exactly what the Netherlands needs. ‘We want a NEXIT referendum, just like... More >


The changes to the 30% ruling are foolish

The changes to the 30% ruling are foolish

Dutch tax minister Menno Snel should resign because of the incompetence he has shown with his plans to cut the 30% ruling for current cases, says expat Jay Henning. Anyone familiar with tax will know that retrospective changes to tax law are taboo, as it creates a climate of uncertainty which puts off investment and long term planning.  But that does not seem to apply to the 30% ruling, which the Dutch government is cutting from eight to five years,... More >


Vrij Links must remain faithful to their free-thinking, secular roots

Vrij Links must remain faithful to their free-thinking, secular roots

Spinoza sowed the seeds of a free Europe in which secular thought could flourish so we should stop thinking that non-western immigrants need protecting from free debate, say writer Asis Aynan, actor Femke Lakerveld, film maker Eddy Terstall and former Labour MP Keklik Yücel.. Group thinking is dividing this country. Nationalist right-wing opinion is feeding on romantic nationalism and all the regressive left has to show for itself are equally divisive tales of identity politics. The group is elbowing out... More >


Dutch politicians have a key role in protecting the rights of British citizens

Dutch politicians have a key role in protecting the rights of British citizens

This week, the Dutch courts will decide if a court case brought by British nationals in the Netherlands who want to keep their European citizenship should be referred to the EU courts. But, whatever happens, the Netherlands can play an important role in making sure the rights of British citizens in Europe are protected after Brexit, writes Sarah Parkes of the British in the Netherlands group. Some 85,000 British citizens currently live in the Netherlands. Our number has been growing... More >


Some chewing gum and a packet of baby killers please

Some chewing gum and a packet of baby killers please

Cigarettes kill. But so do lots of things. What is a shareholder to do? asks economist Mathijs Bouman. I only had a couple of items in my shopping basket which entitled me to pay at the service desk. As my shopping was being scanned I gazed at the display of cigarettes against the wall. There was none of the brightly coloured packaging as in the days when I too thought smoking was cool. In its place had come grisly pictures... More >


Let’s learn from history, both good and bad

Let’s learn from history, both good and bad

History’s saints as well as its villains carry lessons for the present, writes historian Tineke Bennema. I could see where Urk city council was coming from when it decided to name some of the town’s new streets after discredited sea heroes such as Michiel de Ruyter and Jan Pieterszoon Coen. I believe Urk didn’t do this to stir up controversy but to show that the history of human beings is not a blank slate but a product of the past.... More >


Farewell Facebook, you and I are through!

Farewell Facebook, you and I are through!

Economist Mathijs Bouman has said goodbye and good riddance to Facebook and he won’t be back (he hopes). I would like to start this column by offering my sincere apologies to all my friends. Bart Stoffels, Rineke Gieske-Mastenbroek: my apologies. A hearfelt sorry is also due to Witdietma Narain from Arnhem, Willem-Aart Hop from Spakenburg and of course Fokke Obbema from Amsterdam. Apologies too to Remco Dijkstra and Annette van Trigt. And even to Thierry Baudet who, to my surprise,... More >


Dutch agriculture is not a beacon of good farming practice to the world

Dutch agriculture is not a beacon of good farming practice to the world

Dutch agriculture has to become a lot less efficient or the environment will suffer even more, say agro-environmental scientists. Greater awareness among consumers and voters may make it happen. In an opinion piece in January, Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp claimed most farmers simply can’t help being fraudsters when it comes to manure: it’s a national sport to hoodwink the authorities. We are not trying to make excuses but isn’t it also true that we are all responsible for the mess... More >


The Netherlands doesn’t need ‘the G4’ big cities to stay in business

The Netherlands doesn’t need ‘the G4’ big cities to stay in business

There is more to the Netherlands than four big cities with a few fields in between, says economist Mathijs Bouman. Amsterdam stands for Schiphol airport, HQs, and the creative sector. Rotterdam is synonymous with the port, trade, and hard graft. The Hague is the administrative capital and looks after international relations. Utrecht takes care of the business services. The Dutch economy is propelled by a four-cylinder motor: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Without a hint of irony they call... More >


Do-it-yourself: the wonderful world of having multiple jobs

Do-it-yourself: the wonderful world of having multiple jobs

Journalist may be her main profession, but bank clerk, travel agent, postman and bin woman could easily be included on her cv, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe Not so long ago, the national statistics office CBS announced that the official Dutch unemployment rate had dipped under 5% – one of the lowest rates in Europe. The economic recovery is racing along, gross domestic product is forecast to hit 3.3% this year and the declining jobless total is one of the... More >


The arrival of the PVV and FvD in the cities is alarming, say D66 local leaders

The arrival of the PVV and FvD in the cities is alarming, say D66 local leaders

The PVV and Forum voor Democratie are making a bid for local power and that is a worrying development, say Reinier van Dantzig and Klaas Verschuure, who are leading the local election campaigns in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Terms like ‘head rag tax’, ‘arranging’ for ‘fewer, fewer, fewer Moroccans’ and ‘homeopathic dilution’ have so far largely come from the mouths of national politicians. But it was local Amsterdam FvD leader Annabel Nanninga who came up with the term ‘bobbing negroes’ for... More >


Dutch case over Britons’ EU rights could have profound consequences

Dutch case over Britons’ EU rights could have profound consequences

Next week, five British nationals living in the Netherlands will hear if their bid to keep European citizenship after Brexit will be referred to the European court. London barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, who is funding the legal action, says if they win, it will have profound consequences. The Conservative manifesto of 2015 promised to scrap the rules barring those who had lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting. Still, long-term British expats were denied the chance to vote... More >


Don’t fear the robots or the foreigners, they will make us richer

Don’t fear the robots or the foreigners, they will make us richer

Robots and foreigners have been taking over Dutch jobs for 50 years – but more people than ever are working, says economist Mathijs Bouman. And the bottom line is, we are all getting richer because of it. In 1969 Jan Wolkers wrote Turkish Delight, the Beatles recorded Abbey Road and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Piet de Jong was our prime minister, ruling a country with a flourishing manufacturing industry. Of a working population of around 5.3 million, 1.3... More >


Christianity has fostered much in the way of scientific progress

Christianity has fostered much in the way of scientific progress

Science and faith are not on the opposite side of the fence and Christians are responsible for many scientific breakthroughs, says Rob Mutsaerts, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch. Richard Dawkins, advocate of scientific and rational thought, is calling on everyone, and  people of faith in particular, to think for themselves. People who believe in God do not think for themselves, he claims, and are cowardly and lazy to boot. Perhaps this is a good time to... More >


Forum voor Democratie’s focus on race is damaging, says D66 MP

Forum voor Democratie’s focus on race is damaging, says D66 MP

D66 MP Jan Paternotte calls the Forum voor Democratie’s focus on race ‘damaging’ and challenges its MPs to face opposition where it can be heard: in a public debate in parliament. ‘Hiddema didn’t say anything wrong, silly Jan Paternotte’. That is how columnist Theodor Holman ended a passionate defence of Forum voor Democratie MP Theo Hiddema in his column in the Parool. This was the same Hiddema who, during a parliamentary debate spoke of a ‘proud, noble negro’ who, he... More >


‘We want British citizens in NL to continue to live as they do now’

‘We want British citizens in NL to continue to live as they do now’

With European leaders due to meet in Brussels next month, the time is right to press on with negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, says  ambassador Peter Wilson says in an open letter to British nationals in the Netherlands. On 14 and 15 December the leaders of the European Union member states will meet in Brussels for the December gathering of the European Council.  The council comes together after months of talks which have generated a huge... More >


Amsterdammers moan about the arrival of the EMA (but then they would)

Amsterdammers moan about the arrival of the EMA (but then they would)

Macro-economist Mathijs Bouman looks at the reactions of the inhabitants of the Dutch capital to the news that the European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam.  And of course, he says, they are moaning about it. It’s party time in Amsterdam. Wouter Bos has pulled it off. Not until the last round, mind you, and thanks to the luck of the Amsterdammers but mostly because of a clever and intensive lobby which made sure the capital was a contender at... More >


Give everyone the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank

Give everyone the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank

Hardly a day has gone by in recent weeks without Anne Frank cropping up in the news. What is going on? asks Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. Football fans used her photo for an antisemitic provocation of their opponents, American stores were offering an Anne Frank costume for Halloween, the German railway company wanted to name a train after her, and there was an outcry – including threats of legal action – in connection with a... More >


Dear Mr Mayor, I am so grateful for what you did for me and my son

Dear Mr Mayor, I am so grateful for what you did for me and my son

Amsterdammer Somaye Dehban remembers Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan and the impact he has had on her life and family. I am an Amsterdammer who was truly affected by the news of your illness like many others, even the ones who have met you for a brief moment. I am writing you this letter because I want you to know how grateful and appreciative I am for what you have done for me and my family – specifically my... More >


The new Dutch ministerial line-up should aim for 50% women

The new Dutch ministerial line-up should aim for 50% women

  The coalition talks are nearing completion after a record-breaking period of negotiation. It is also about time the Netherlands had a cabinet made up of an equal number of men and women, says Marije Cornelissen, the director of UN Women Netherlands. Two years ago Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau presented his new government to the press. Asked by a journalist why half of his cabinet was made up of women Trudeau paused a few seconds and said: ‘Because it’s... More >