Tuesday 20 August 2019

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

The Ukraine referendum was a thrashing the government deserved

The Ukraine referendum was a thrashing the government deserved

The government and Brussels may have deserved the thrashing they got on referendum day but the results are a wake-up call for ministers and voters, say economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. There are only a few countries in the world where an advisory or binding referendum is part of the democratic tool box. It is generally thought to have too many disadvantages, reason why most have chosen a democratic system in which chosen representatives and administrators take... More >


We’re in the money: how will political parties spend €27bn?

We’re in the money: how will political parties spend €27bn?

According to the CPB, it looks like the political parties can actually afford to go on a spending spree, writes Mathijs Bouman. The macro-economic think tank traditionally analyses party manifestos in the run up to the general election. Every time the CPB analyses election programmes, politicians grumble. But this year their grumble has turned into a wail. Ahead of the national elections in 2017, CDA, Labour and D66 have publicly vented their unwillingness to participate in this uniquely Dutch tradition.... More >


The Ukraine referendum is cynical, manipulative and one we should boycott

The Ukraine referendum is cynical, manipulative and one we should boycott

The Ukraine referendum is cynical, manipulative and all about fake democracy – so not something we should be voting in, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. Tomorrow (April 6) the Dutch will be able to vote in a referendum on the EU’s treaty of association with Ukraine. The vote is only open to Dutch nationals and the result of the referendum is only advisory – and it won’t have any official weight unless 30% of the electorate turn out. The Netherlands... More >


The lost years: the state has failed to combat terrorism

The lost years: the state has failed to combat terrorism

The state has failed to come up with a convincing counterstory to terrorism, says professor of jurisprudence Paul Cliteur. Perhaps one of the most remarkable facts to emerge from the confusion surrounding the attacks in Brussels is that very few people regard this as a failure on the part of the state. But that’s exactly what it is, isn’t it? Why else do we have states? A state is an organisation which purports to protect its citizens from each other... More >


Dutch elite forfeits moral leadership (but hangs on to its second homes)

Dutch elite forfeits moral leadership (but hangs on to its second homes)

The Dutch elite has lost its moral leadership, writes political scientist Meindert Fennema. In an interview with writer and historian Geert Mak in Belgian newspaper De Standaard, the interviewer refers to the fact that in 1956 Geert’s father took in Hungarian refugees. Geert says he has fond memories of those refugees. The interviewer then asks him if he would do the same for Syrian refugees. ‘Well,’ Geert says, ‘my father did have quite a big house.’ And hesitantly he adds,... More >


Shortage of programmers and engineers will push up wages

Shortage of programmers and engineers will push up wages

Economist Mathijs Bouman thinks programmers and otherwise talented folk will push up the average wage. The Netherlands has two million unemployed, many more than the official tally of 600,000, according to a recent report from the Dutch central bank. It’s a labour surplus which will put any thoughts of big pay increases a long way into the future, even if the economy is showing signs of recovery, the bank opined. Really? The bank seems to be awfully sure of itself.... More >


‘Our way of life’ and those pitch black days

‘Our way of life’ and those pitch black days

Today I have nothing clever to say about the central European bank, writes economist Mathijs Bouman, in the wake of the Brussels bombs. First there is an 8.30 tweet from @LeMondeLive about a ‘double conflagration’, two explosions in the departure lounge at Zaventum airport in Brussels. Shortly afterwards I see images of people running from a smoking building. It’s obviously going to be one of those black days again, a day of watching tv disconsolately, a day that grows progressively... More >


Permanent contracts are good for competitiveness, say professors

Permanent contracts are good for competitiveness, say professors

Employers are ignoring the importance of ‘tacit knowledge’ in their quest for easy ways to get rid of workers, at their and the economy’s peril, say five senior economics professors. Much criticism, especially from the ranks of the employers’ organisations, has been levelled against the changes in the new Dutch dismissal law (Wet Werk en Zekerheid): the new rules will make it virtually impossible for small businesses to hire people and instead of fewer flexible contracts there will be more.... More >


There is more to international education than a school uniform

There is more to international education than a school uniform

International schools may make Robin Pascoe a little nostalgic about school uniforms, but she wishes ordinary Dutch schools would do more to embrace their expat pupils. As a product of the British school system, I wore a shirt, tie and blazer to school every day for goodness knows how many years. The only change came when there was a girls’ revolution and we were finally allowed to wear trousers. But apart from that, it was do I have a clean... More >


Employers are becoming increasingly powerful in the Netherlands

Employers are becoming increasingly powerful in the Netherlands

In a climate in which governments are increasingly dependent on businesses to provide jobs, employers are becoming ever more powerful, write economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. A recent study published by the Dutch central bank (DNB) has put the spotlights on the great shortage of paid employment in this country. Apart from around 600,000 unemployed, some five million people who are not currently active on the labour market would like to be, while 500,000 workers are looking... More >


Dutch should go for real transparency in corporate ownership

Dutch should go for real transparency in corporate ownership

A register of corporate ownership that is accessible to all would help combat crime. But the Dutch proposal – a registry behind a paywall and limited data access – does not go far enough, write Arjan Al-Fassed and Anne Scheltema Beduin. In the Netherlands it’s still possible to create legal companies without revealing the identity of the actual owner, Criminals abuse such constructions for purposes of corruption, fraud, money laundering, organised crime and cartels. A public registry, the so-called UBO... More >


Holocaust denial, pick-up artists and Salafism: the Dutch between a rock and a hard place

Holocaust denial, pick-up artists and Salafism: the Dutch between a rock and a hard place

What do a British holocaust denying historian, an ultra-fundamentalist Islamic sect, and an American pickup artist have in common? The answer: all three have faced resistance in the Netherlands for their rhetoric. And efforts to restrict all three have been shot down due to freedom of speech laws, writes Graham Dockery. Salafism, a puritan and anti-modernist interpretation of Sunni Islam, is the religion of choice of the Islamic State, the Saudi regime, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda. The religion is... More >


Brexit: the Dutch will lose much-needed ally

Brexit: the Dutch will lose much-needed ally

The British may be troublesome moaners but it’s better to have them aboard in Europe, writes Peter van Ham, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael institute of international relations. ‘Let the Brits have their Brexit, for goodness sake! At least we won’t have to listen to their endless moaning anymore.’ It’s a sentiment that’s becoming increasingly common, and for good reason. Britain has always been the odd one out, with its own ideas about what the EU should look... More >


What happened to empathy and solidarity when it comes to refugees?

What happened to empathy and solidarity when it comes to refugees?

Europe is not doing its share for the refugees. And by not taking control of the flight routes, it is also giving people smugglers free reign, writes GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver. At the beginning of this year I became a father again. I enjoyed the couple of weeks’ leave granted to new fathers and during that time politics was put firmly on the back burner. When I went back to work I wondered if the job was really worth missing... More >


How Dutch meetings are different part 3: the catering

How Dutch meetings are different part 3: the catering

Cheese, mustard, coffee and cake: Greg Shapiro warns European diplomats not to expect too much when it comes to the catering during the Dutch presidency of the EU. If you haven’t already seen the billboards and banners, the Netherlands is playing host to the EU Presidency for the first half of 2016. You may NOT have seen the billboards and banners, and that’s because the Dutch government has announced it’s best not to be seen spending too much money on... More >


Instant gratification goes hand in hand with greater efficiency

Instant gratification goes hand in hand with greater efficiency

Instant gratification goes hand in hand with greater efficiency, writes trendwatcher Farid Tabarki I want it all, and I want it now! It’s still one of the better opening lines ever written. That was 1989 and what the young wanted then was already quite a lot. And it’s only become worse: we’ve all become Very Hungry Caterpillars. Fashion, a market invented for demanding and trendy individuals, is moving towards immediate gratification too. Burberry’s fashion shows will be ‘see-now-buy-immediately’ from September.... More >


Syrians need bread, not bombs, say Dutch socialist MPs

Syrians need bread, not bombs, say Dutch socialist MPs

Emile Roemer, the Socialist Party’s leader and its foreign affairs spokesman MP Harry van Bommel are highly criticial of the Labour party’s U-turn on bombing Syria. The PvdA no longer opposes air strikes by Dutch F-16s on IS targets in Syria. It’s a curious decision since the arguments against such an intervention raised earlier by the party remain the same. The civil war in Syria has killed over 260,000 people and ten million people have been forced to leave the... More >


Tackling drugs requires harm reduction, not repression

Tackling drugs requires harm reduction, not repression

In April, the United Nations is meeting to discuss the worldwide policy on drugs. Junior health minister Martin van Rijn must be urged to forge a different approach, write Dutch MPs Vera Bergkamp (D66) and Marith Volp (Labour). A war on drugs is no longer compatible with modern times. Big words and repression should be replaced with measures focusing on limiting health risks. Prevention, information and care are the areas international drug policy should be concentrating on. Now that the... More >


The European Union is ignoring the Dutch referendum on Ukraine

The European Union is ignoring the Dutch referendum on Ukraine

Ukraine and Brussels are busy implementing their treaty of association, even though it has not been fully ratified. The Dutch referendum on the treaty is being sidelined, write campaigners Thierry Baudet and Erik De Vlieger. We are frankly astonished at just how the European Union is ignoring the upcoming referendum in the Netherlands. Never before has there been such a massive reaction against a proposed expansion of the European Union: nearly half a million people in the Netherlands supported the... More >


Three ways Dutch diplomacy is different

Three ways Dutch diplomacy is different

As holders of the EU presidency for the first half of 2016, the Dutch have a chance to show off their unique sense of diplomacy on sensitive topics like immigration and refugees. So what should we expect, asks Greg Shapiro? While the Dutch are known for being tolerant, that doesn’t mean they’re not still judgmental as hell. To prepare yourself for Dutch leadership, here are three ways Dutch diplomacy is different. 1) Honesty The Dutch pride themselves on being open... More >