Monday 23 September 2019

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

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 >


‘The freelancer is a weed to be exterminated’

‘The freelancer is a weed to be exterminated’

The self-employed are a weed that must be exterminated as soon as possible and the Christian Democrats have found a way of doing so, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. Employers and workers are currently involved in a top-level debate about the scourge of our times: the self-employed or zzp’er. This pernicious weed is threatening to stifle everything trade unions and employers’ organisations have built together. The zzp’er is a duplicitous so-and-so who puts on his entrepreneurial hat when it suits him... More >


Dutch EU presidency: will Rutte show some guts?

Dutch EU presidency: will Rutte show some guts?

Will the Dutch presidency of the EU make a difference? D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and D66’s parliamentary spokesperson on Europe Kees Verhoeven hope it will. But Rutte, they say, will have to show some guts. Sweden and Denmark are introducing passport controls which means open borders within the Schengen area are closing again. Poland adopted a media law which prevents public broadcasters from criticising the government. And if the EU doesn’t accept the four demands made by British prime minister... More >


Three ways Dutch European summits are different

Three ways Dutch European summits are different

As hosts of the EU Presidency for the first half of 2016, the Dutch have already welcomed European leaders with skimpy blocks of cheese. And if the Dutch management style is anything like the catering, the EU may be in for another rude surprise. Greg Shapiro outlines three reasons why Dutch summit meetings are different. 1) How can you tell who’s in charge of a Dutch meeting? A – The one who’s most dominant. B – The one with the... More >


Robots are not going to steal jobs, they keep economists in work

Robots are not going to steal jobs, they keep economists in work

Economists aren’t as gormless about robotisation as they used to be, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. Robots are not going to steal jobs, they are providing one for economists. After seven years of doom and gloom many economists are gagging for a subject which is not apocalyptic. Recession and unemployment do not put a spring in our step but robots do. It’s a lovely subject and there’s something for everyone: growth, productivity, distribution of income and the relationship between labour and... More >


How much are we prepared to pay for drugs that fight cancer?

How much are we prepared to pay for drugs that fight cancer?

Trendwatcher Farid Tabarki wants politicians to decide what norms should govern the availability of life-extending cancer drugs. For sentient beings, people can be very illogical at times. I myself am a good example. For some months now I have been monitoring a stain on my ceiling. It’s growing, although no drops have fallen as yet. But calling in someone to repair what is undoubtedly a leak is still a step too far. Dilemma The treatment for cancer, the fear of... More >


Change in the Netherlands is s-l-o-w

Change in the Netherlands is s-l-o-w

Shifts in official policy in the Netherlands take a long time but when a decision is finally made, it is not going to change, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. Change in the Netherlands is slow and sluggish. The process usually starts with a warning from experts that a certain situation could become untenable. It’s a phase that can last years. Then, slowly, the realisation takes hold that something should be done. The SER publishes a report and then the unions and... More >


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 >