Monday 22 July 2019

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

Housing students and start-ups: home is where the bath is

Housing students and start-ups: home is where the bath is

The Netherlands wants to encourage start-ups, keep its international students and be a magnet for global talent. But we seem to be incapable of coming up with a solution to the shortage of housing for people on lower incomes, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. One of the landmarks of being a parent is the day the last of your fledglings has flown. I’m not talking about the practically obligatory travelling in South America or Asia, but the bags and boxes... More >


You can’t come into the Netherlands via the Wildersdijk

You can’t come into the Netherlands via the Wildersdijk

Closing the borders to stop refugees coming to the Netherlands might be slightly more complicated than Geert Wilders thinks, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. Just in case nobody heard him, Geert Wilders said it again in parliament last month: the Dutch need to close their borders. Wilders has been saying this for some time and last month the PVV even started a flyer campaign to bring home the point. Bits of paper headed ‘Close the borders’ were handed out to the... More >


Ready for action: campaigning for the rights of Dutch nationals abroad

Ready for action: campaigning for the rights of Dutch nationals abroad

Most EU countries today accept dual nationality as a practical consequence of globalisation and increasingly mobile people. The Dutch government, however, continues to fiercely resist this 21st century norm, writes campaigner Eelco Keij. The Dutch reluctance to embrace dual nationality is partly because of electoral fear (Geert Wilders’ PVV is doing extremely well in the polls), partly because of a lack of understanding of the practical consequences for Dutch citizens abroad, and partly because of the lack of a strong lobbying... More >


Commissie Stiekem – much ado about nothing

Commissie Stiekem – much ado about nothing

Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk is not being honest about his dealings with parliament’s security committee over the NSA leaks, writes Nicola Chadwick Many would say politicians are notorious for lying. Being married to one, I wouldn’t like to go that far. However, they do have a habit of omitting, framing, burying and twisting the truth. In Dutch politics, it is a mortal sin to misinform or lie to parliament. So when Edward Snowden revealed that 1.8 million pieces of data... More >


Geert Wilders grandmother was a refugee too

Geert Wilders grandmother was a refugee too

History tells us that Europe wouldn’t be Europe without refugees, write professor of migration law Thomas Spijkerboer and PhD student Martijn Stronks. Are Europeans prepared to offer protection to non-Europeans? That is the central question in the refugee debate. The apparent reluctance to do so has everything to do with the fact that non-Europeans are regarded as outsiders. That is why it is important to remind people that Europe and refugees go together, like Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street.... More >


Mark Rutte should kickstart a campaign to keep Britain in the EU

Mark Rutte should kickstart a campaign to keep Britain in the EU

Apart from the British economy itself, it will be the Dutch economy which will be hardest hit if the Brits decide to leave the EU, warn economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend. The UK is one of this country’s most important trading partners and investors and a Brexit would result in an economic downturn and the loss of many thousands of jobs. According to the polls, prime minister Mark Rutte’s second cabinet isn’t doing very well. Friends and foes... More >


We need a discussion on ethics to cope with innovation

We need a discussion on ethics to cope with innovation

Innovation is moving so fast it leaves citizens –and the law – standing, says trendwatcher Farid Tabarki. What is needed is a discussion on ethics. What do 3D printed drones, an Amsterdam Uber taxi driver and a camper van in Egmond have in common? Yes, they all move but that’s not what I’m getting at. All three are examples of the challenges of today. I’ll come back to that later, but first: King Willem-Alexander in China. When the king addressed the... More >


Will the Dutch come clean on their murky tax deals? I should coco

Will the Dutch come clean on their murky tax deals? I should coco

What’s the easiest way to upset a Dutch finance official? Call his country a tax haven, says journalist Gordon Darroch. Five years ago the Obama administration named the Netherlands as one of three low-tax countries (along with Ireland and Bermuda) that had allowed US multinational corporations to pay just €16bn in tax on €700bn of earnings, which converts to a rate of just under 2.3%. It prompted splutterings of outrage from the Dutch embassy in Washington and the Americans meekly... More >


A cost-benefit analysis of refugees will only fuel hysteria

A cost-benefit analysis of refugees will only fuel hysteria

A cost benefit analysis of the refugee crisis will inevitably focus on the costs and fuel the hysteria of Wilders’ hordes. It would be better – and cheaper in the long run – to concentrate efforts on establishing a long-term policy, writes  economist Marcel Canoy. According to CPB director Laura van Geest, it doesn’t do to calculate the costs of refugees. According to Volkskrant columnist Frans Kalshoven – with in his wake a couple of applauding professors – this is... More >


Democracy the Wilders’ way

Democracy the Wilders’ way

Wilders’ PVV is doing its xenophobic best to stop refugees coming to this country, and the VVD isn’t far behind, writes cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk. Thanks to ‘Steenbergen’  we now know have a good idea of what the Wilders Youth means by the ‘peaceful resistance’ to the arrival of war refugees: intimidation and threats. To the noisiest of Wilders’ elite troops ‘democracy’ simply means having their way and ‘listening to citizens’ means they don’t have to listen to... More >


The Dutch are not innovative and ambitious enough on renewables

The Dutch are not innovative and ambitious enough on renewables

The Dutch are not innovative and ambitious enough when it comes to renewable energy, writes trendwatcher Farid Tabarki. Some years ago the province of Noord-Brabant was debating what its new provincial anthem should be. Guus Meeuwis’ Brabant was a candidate but didn’t win. But it did provide the province with a new slogan: ‘That makes you think of Brabant’. Meeuwis, you see, in the final bit of his song, thinks of Brabant ‘because that is where the lights are still... More >


Health insurers should stop wasting money on advertising

Health insurers should stop wasting money on advertising

Health insurance companies should not waste money competing against themselves with glossy advertising campaigns and pointless PR ‘dialogues’, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. It is almost that time of year again – the time when health insurance companies bombard us with television adverts full of shiny happy people and try to persuade us that they have the best policies. So not great timing for CZ then, with the news that two hospitals in Noord-Holland have stopped carrying out cataract operations... More >


Translating the Dutch constitution into Arabic is a waste of money

Translating the Dutch constitution into Arabic is a waste of money

An Arabic translation of the constitution – no matter how riveting – won’t shed much light on the rules of our society, writes Reinout Wibier, professor of civil law at Tilburg University. Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk wants to give refugees a copy of the Dutch constitution in Arabic. ‘These people are coming to a country they know nothing about. I think it’s right to tell them about the basic rules in our society in their own language,’ he says.... More >


Prime minister Mark Rutte, don’t let Putin get away with it

Prime minister Mark Rutte, don’t let Putin get away with it

Instead of issuing a lame appeal for Russian help in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the MH17 attack, the Dutch prime minister should denounce Putin’s involvement on the international stage, writes former politician and activitist Roel van Duijn. Rutte is tiptoeing around the criminal role played by president Putin in the case of the downed MH17. In his comment on the conclusions of the fact-finding commission, the prime minister limits himself to a lame ‘appeal to the Russian government... More >


The Dutch referendum about democracy is not democratic

The Dutch referendum about democracy is not democratic

The referendum on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine is all about democracy, say its supporters. But by disenfranchising tens of thousands of European voters, Dutch democracy is being ill-served, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. Early next year, the Netherlands will hold a referendum on a key treaty between the European Union and Ukraine. The result of the vote will not be binding on the government, but it will give an indication of the mood of the moment in the Netherlands... More >


Dutch transport hubs need more government input, says employers’ chief

Dutch transport hubs need more government input, says employers’ chief

Dutch transport hubs are a valuable Dutch asset but the state needs to get more involved, writes VNO-NCW chairman Hans de Boer A structural growth rate of 1% to 1.5% a year? VNO-NCW has more ambitious plans for the Dutch economy. We are confident that upcoming entrepreneurial talent will put the Netherlands in the economic Champions League. Economic growth is not an end in itself. It is what it takes to get to grips with the great social challenges of... More >


Refugee crisis requires decency, not political point-scoring

Refugee crisis requires decency, not political point-scoring

The current refugee crisis is not about being for or against asylum seekers, but about being decent human beings, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. There is something particularly sick about a group of men in balaclavas attacking a sports centre where 150 refugees, including 51 children, are living for a few days. That this happened in Woerden, a nice little town near Utrecht which can trace its roots back to Roman times, is even sadder. Because Woerden represents a sort... More >


Dutch Labour party should heed Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn

Dutch Labour party should heed Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn

PvdA senator Adri Duivesteijn thinks it’s time the Dutch Labour leadership returned to its core social-democratic values. He believes Jeremy Corbyn in Britain can show it how it should be done. Happy days are here again for British social democrats. Left-wing Jeremy Corbyn has been elected Labour leader by an overwhelming majority. An era of neo-liberal domination has come to an end. How can such a radical change of direction be explained? And could the same thing happen in the... More >


Budget boredom: the cabinet is marking time and it shows

Budget boredom: the cabinet is marking time and it shows

The government’s 2016 spending plans are unambitious, show a lack of vision and highlight the balancing act this cabinet has become, says DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. Dare I say it? This year it was hard not to be somewhat underwhelmed by the presentation of the Dutch government’s annual spending plans. From a lacklustre king’s speech to the finance minister’s attempt to jolly up the proceedings by using a briefcase from 1947 to carry his crucial papers, it all felt a... More >


Hey city dwellers: distance is dead!

Hey city dwellers: distance is dead!

Economist Mathijs Bouman never got the memo that the city is the only place to be. But in his quiet countryside hideaway, he is not sorry one bit. Distance is dead. It was killed by the internet. At the end of the ‘90s British journalist Frances Cairncross predicted the murder in her bestseller Death of Distance. Thanks to the internet location no longer matters, Cairncross wrote. No one will be stuck in traffic jams because there will be no need... More >