Saturday 11 July 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.

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 >


‘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 >