Sunday 19 January 2020

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: 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 >


Glass ceiling? It’s a sticky workfloor that makes women stay put

Glass ceiling? It’s a sticky workfloor that makes women stay put

It’s not the glass ceiling that keeps women from the top positions but the sticky workfloor of part-time jobs, says Barbara Baarsma, director of knowledge development at Rabobank and economics professor at the University of Amsterdam. If, like me, you think quota are a paternalistic panacea for the lack of women in top executive positions, you are duty-bound to monitor the labour market for women with an eagle eye. Unfortunately, the last 15 years do not make for happy viewing.... More >


How much more in your pocket? Down with purchasing power predictions!

How much more in your pocket? Down with purchasing power predictions!

There they are again: the spending power predictions. Don’t you believe them, says economist Mathijs Bouman. Crack open the beer, we’re having a party. Next year spending power is up by 1.5%. For a while it looked as if the meter would get stuck at 1.3% but in an ultimate pre-budget day effort the government cranked it up by means of a number of measures. What these measures are we do not know – I’m guessing it will be something... More >


Staffing agency exploitation is the other side of the benefit fraud scandal

Staffing agency exploitation is the other side of the benefit fraud scandal

Last week, the Dutch media was full of a new scandal, which they dubbed ‘the Polish fraud’. But the expose only covered part of the story, and the real scandal is going unmentioned, says Malgorzata Bos-Karczewska, editor of Polonia.nl. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees wants to come down hard on Polish fraudsters, who are claiming unemployment benefit while living back home in Poland.  He is, of course, totally justified in doing so, but in essence it is not enough. Why?... More >


Enough of out-of-court settlements, put bankers in the dock

Enough of out-of-court settlements, put bankers in the dock

Banks that settle scandals out of court continue in their wicked ways. Instead, they should be hauled before a judge so justice is seen to be done, says economist Mathijs Bouman. But Mr Hamers, how do you explain the fact that your own computer system was programmed deliberately to limit alarm signals over possible money laundering practices to three times a day? The public prosecutor gazes at the ING boss Ralph Hamers for a long time before adding: ‘And how... More >


‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’

‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’

The Netherlands is a pretty stable, well-integrated and prosperous country. So why do the white Dutch talk about the failed multi-cultural society? asks journalist and writer Hassnae Bouazza. The media and politicians have been banging on about it for over twenty years: the multicultural society has failed and we are living a multicultural nightmare. I have never understood the failed-multicultural-society mantra. You might as well say the sun has failed. The multicultural society is a fact and that’s it. Like... More >