Monday 23 September 2019

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

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 >


The tax on Tesla cars is crony capitalism in the polder

The tax on Tesla cars is crony capitalism in the polder

Crony capitalism in the polder exists. Just look at the tax on Tesla electric cars, writes economist Mathijs Bouman. In the American state of Michigan you’re not allowed to buy a car on the internet. As of last year, car buyers have to use an existing car dealer. A lot of car manufacturers have dealership networks so it doesn’t present much of a problem. But there’s one make that only has showrooms and an internet shop. Electric car maker Tesla... More >


Sheer numbers force shift in Dutch government’s stance on refugee crisis

Sheer numbers force shift in Dutch government’s stance on refugee crisis

Back in April, the Dutch government almost split over the matter of what to do with failed asylum seekers who are unable or unwilling to leave the country. As tens of thousands of refugees advance towards the heart of Europe, the coalition has now been forced to find common ground on how to tackle the crisis, writes Nicola Chadwick. It wasn’t long ago that the VVD called for Europe’s borders to be closed completely to boat refugees. Parliamentary party leader... More >


Dutch minister wants to let Big Brother watch us

Dutch minister wants to let Big Brother watch us

If home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk gets his way, Big Brother will spy on us all with impunity. It’s time to ditch his draft proposal, writes journalist and internet safety expert Menso Heus. Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk chose the depths of the silly season to offer up for ‘consultation’ a draft proposal which rides roughshod over the basic rights of every Dutch citizen: the new law governing intelligence and security services, WIV. If this proposal becomes law, the intelligence... More >


Available now: Imtech washer-uppers

Available now: Imtech washer-uppers

  The Imtech debacle and why nobody, including the supervisory board, saw it coming except a couple of hedge funds and a lone ABN Amro analyst. ‘The whole thing is pathetic’, writes Marco de Groot. Imtech has been declared bankrupt and the last CEO and CFO will without a doubt do penance, and rightly so. Still, it can’t just have been these two who pushed the company over the edge, can it? For years brokers and investors were mesmerised by Imtech’s unique... More >


Youp drives a Jeep on holiday in Scotland

Youp drives a Jeep on holiday in Scotland

Comedian Youp van ‘t Hek is on holiday in Scotland and finds his left-hand drive is not as easy to handle as he thought. Driving a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side is difficult enough so why not make life easier and go for an automatic. It’ll save you from having to change gear with your left hand. So said a good friend who likes to dole out good advice. This time he was meddling with my... More >


The Dutch economy: The old and the new normal

The Dutch economy: The old and the new normal

Economist Mathijs Bouman says the 2% growth rate predicted for 2015 by the number crunchers at the CPB hides a rising structural deficit. It’s taken a while but the optimism virus has now definitely spread to the economists of the CPB. Over the last year, the government forecasters have become more cheery-faced with every new projection although they hardly went overboard. Last year the CPB would not go further than a 1.25% economic growth rate for 2015. The euro nose-dived,... More >


A blast from a distant past: the basic income

A blast from a distant past: the basic income

Economists Rick van der Ploeg and Willem Vermeend don’t think the basic income, which a number of local councils want to experiment with, is a very good idea. Long ago, in the 1970s, left-wing parties dreamt of a basic income for everyone: young, old, rich and poor should all get a free, no strings attached, hand-out from the state. The amount would be around the poverty threshold, currently at around €1,000 a month. According to advocates, a flat income would... More >


‘Dijsselbloem is sidelining the democratic process’

‘Dijsselbloem is sidelining the democratic process’

The Netherlands may be proud to have one of its own mingle with the high and mighty but the fact is that Jeroen Dijsselbloem is side-lining the democratic process, write David Hollanders and Merijn Oudenampsen. Writer Milan Kundera distinguished two kinds of provincialism. The kind manifested by big countries ignores outside influences and favours its own. Small countries, however, show their provincialism by showing a great appreciation for what happens outside their borders. That outside world remains alien and unattainable,... More >


‘Gay wedding tourism would be good for everyone’

‘Gay wedding tourism would be good for everyone’

More can be done to make Amsterdam and the Netherlands the gay capital of the world, write D66 politicians Jan Paternotte and Sjoerd Sjoerdsma. They believe we should give gay couples from all over the world the right to get married here. Amsterdam is getting ready for its twentieth Gay Pride canal parade. The capital’s waterways will once again be a showcase for freedom and tolerance. Not only is it the best party in the world, it is also a... More >


Boosting the Beach Body Index

Boosting the Beach Body Index

Summer’s here and the Dutch are heading for the beach. It’s a time when it becomes very obvious indeed that physical health, self-confidence, a positive self-image as well as charisma and attractiveness really do matter, writes the SCP’s Kim Putters. We tend to underestimate the importance of this sort of ‘personal capital’ for the rest of the year. In the discussions about (in)equality we immediately trot out income policy or education but very often health and a pleasant demeanour that... More >


Annemarie says goodbye

Annemarie says goodbye

All good things must come to an end, and that includes this column. For almost seven years I have shared my opinions, my indignation and my ideas with you. Today is the 350th and final time. I’m going to be a member of supervisory board of the Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM, the financial sector regulator, DN) and it wouldn’t do to cause raised eyebrows every week. Instead of commenting from the sidelines I will move into a field I love:... More >


‘Prisoners should pay for bed & board while in jail’

‘Prisoners should pay for bed & board while in jail’

If the elderly are made to contribute to their care why should prisoners be exempt from paying towards their own upkeep? Some have plenty of money and prisons don’t come cheap, says entrepreneur Annemarie van Gaal. The governing coalition of VVD and Labour have proposed that the inmates of prisons should contribute all of €16 a day for bed and board. It’s a drop in the ocean if you know that the true costs of each inmate’s stay in prison... More >