Dutch urged to revise laws on dual nationality by Brexit-hit expats

Dutch nationals living in Britain and British expats in the Netherlands have urged the Dutch government to make good its pledge to modernise the law on dual nationality. Representatives of the two groups made their pleas to members of parliament's Europe committee on Thursday at a special session on the impact of Brexit. 'We hear a lot about trade and business but not much about citizen's rights,' Hedwig Hegtermans, of The Three Million lobby group told MPs. Dutch nationals who want to remain in Britain are concerned that their children in particular may be hit by the ban on having two passports. For example, the children of Dutch nationals who grow up in the UK will have to pay the very high fees facing foreign students if they want to go to a British university and are not officially British. Sarah Parkes, of the Dutch-based Brexpats Hear our Voice group, said UK nationals will lose their right to free movement throughout Europe, which is essential for some jobs. 'We were dismayed by the referendum result and a lot us did not even have a vote,' she told MPs. Christian Democrat MP Peter Omzigt told the committee he had not realised that Brexit was proving so complicated for residents.  And, ending the session, the committee's chairman Malik Azmani said: 'I thought it was all organised [when it comes do citizens rights]. But it is clearly not.' The new government includes a commitment to reform the laws on dual nationality but as yet, no concrete steps have been taken. A justice ministry spokesman told DutchNews.nl earlier this week ‘no announcements’ can be made about the contents, shape and time-line for changing dual nationality legislation.  More >

Dutch, Russian foreign ministers in talks

Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met for talks in Moscow on Friday morning, with the MH17 investigation and Syria top of the agenda. The relationship between Russia and the Netherlands is going through 'difficult times', Blok said after the meeting. Relations have been particularly frosty since last year, when home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Russian security services are trying to influence public opinion in the Netherlands by spreading fake news. The Netherlands has also agreed to expel two Russian diplomats in the tit for tat expulsions following the nerve gas attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Today's talks, however, focused on the investigation into the MH17 disaster and Russia's role in Syria. 'It should be clear that it is difficult to reach an agreement,' Blok said, adding that he expected Lavrov to support an independent UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Douma. 'To date, it has not,' Blok said. Lavrov told waiting reporters that Russian experts had found no traces of chemical weapons and that he did not expect the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW to find any either, broadcaster NOS reported. Blok also told reporters that the spreading of false information about the bringing down of MH17 was causing unnecessary paid to the relatives of the victims.  More >

MH17 top of Dutch Russian talks topics

The hunt for those who brought down flight MH17 is the main issue on the table during Friday's talks between foreign minister Stef Blok and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, news agency ANP said. All 298 people on board flight MH17 were killed when it was struck by a missile on July 17, 2014, and crashed into fields in eastern Ukraine. Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch and the Netherlands is leading the investigation. The JIT’s preliminary investigations concluded last year that the plane was shot down from Ukrainian farmland by a BUK missile ‘controlled by pro-Russian fighters’. That conclusion has been disputed by Russia, which claims that Ukrainian fighters were responsible. Blok told reporters on Thursday that he would impress upon Lavrov that the UN security council had agreed all countries would cooperate in bringing the MH17 perpetrators to justice. In addition, Blok will ask the Russian minister to take action to help stop the conflict in Syria, ANP said. This should initially take the form of a cease-fire so humanitarian aid can be brought in, the news agency quoted the minister as saying. Blok said he would stress that Russia is crucial to a ceasefire in Syria and, ultimately, a sustainable solution. February The bilateral meeting was initially due to take place in February but was cancelled after it emerged the then foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra had lied about a meeting with president Putin at his country retreat. The relationship between the Netherlands and Russia has been strained for some time. Last December, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Russian security services are trying to influence public opinion in the Netherlands by spreading fake news. And the Netherlands has also agreed to expel two Russian diplomats in the tit for tat expulsions following the nerve gas attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.  More >

Brussels acts on food payment terms

Supermarket groups in the EU will be forced to pay their suppliers of agricultural products faster than they do now under plans to be presented in Brussels on Thursday, Dutch paper the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday. The measure is contained in a concept proposal drawn up by agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan, the paper said, and comes in response to complaints from farmers and other foods suppliers. They claim supermarkets are misusing their buying power and delaying payments deliberately. On Tuesday, the FD published research showing that Dutch supermarkets are now paying their suppliers between two and four times more slowly than they did seven years ago. The FD investigation revealed that Jumbo paid its suppliers an average of 32 days after being billed in 2011 but thatthe payment date has shot up to an average of 75 days at present. Hogan is urging national sector watchdogs, like the ACM in the Netherlands, to attack unfair practices and impose fines upon offenders.He also wants to reinstate the 30-day payments deadline. The current EU standard has been widened to 60 days unless previous arrangements have been made. In addition, Hogan’s proposal states that buyers cannot cancel perishable purchases at the last minute, nor can the purchaser force suppliers to participate in a sales drive. He also backs the right to complain anonymously. Suppliers now are reluctant to register a complaint for fear of losing business, the FD said.  More >

British charities opening Dutch offices

Four British non-profit organisations have opened offices in the Netherlands ahead of Brexit, according to Charity Finance magazine. Support organisation Euclid Network, human rights group Redress, peace-building organisation International Alert and Field Ready which develops humanitarian supplies have all moved some or all of their operations to The Hague, the magazine said. Support organisation Euclid Network decided to move its entire operation from Britain to The Hague in October last year. 'Some 70% to 80% of our revenue is from EU programmes... If we lost the EU funding, there would probably be no organisation,' said Euclid director Stephen Barnett. 'The Netherlands won out on the six factors we were considering. It had a strong local member in Social Enterprise NL, great transport links by rail and air, a good community of expats working for international NGOs, attainable staff costs and a solid international reputation,' Barnett said. Rupert Skilbeck, director of human rights organisation Redress told the magazine: 'When we started thinking about establishing a base in Europe to maximise the global impact of our work seeking justice and reparation for torture survivors, we found that The Hague best exemplified that international outlook and provided the perfect platform for us.' Debbie Ball, head of fundraising at International Alert, said her charity was attracted by the ability to continue to access EU funding, as well as the city’s welcoming attitude when setting up a new European office. Aid organisation Field Ready, which is based in the US, but has a substantial presence in Britain, has also opened an office in the Netherlands.  More >

EU shock stop to 'English' drop

New regulations to come into force after Britain leaves the EU will mean the Dutch favourite ‘Engelse drop’, or liquorice allsorts, will have to be renamed. Under the terms of the withdrawal treaty, only foods made in the UK may have names referencing England – so, amongst other things, the Dutch liquorice mixture known as ‘English’ will need new branding. The rules are an extension of European protected designation of origin (PDO) law, which applies equally to products such as Brabantse Wal asparagus and Dutch Edam cheese, according to an EU spokesman. ‘Dutch sweet manufacturers will have two years to prepare for the changeover, so they have no excuse not to be ready,’ EU spokesman Boris Russells told DutchNews.nl. ‘EU consumers have the right to know they are eating properly-regulated European sweets, not British knock-offs.’ Proud SuikerKruiken, the association that represents Dutch confectionery makers, held an emergency vote in Oude Tonge earlier this week and a representative said its manufacturers have agreed to rename the treat ‘Trots Drop’ – Dutch for ‘proud liquorice’. Dianne Betes, SK chairwoman, told DutchNews.nl: ‘We are proud of our tradition of healthy liquorice snacks, and this has really got us going. Our sweet mixture literally has something for everyone in the family, from your slightly sour great uncle to your twisted sister-in-law. And, of course, my own favourite, the sweet, coconut-covered rounds.’ But the rule clarification has sparked a sugar rush of patent applications in Britain, which some sweet lovers fear may mean their favourites are dropped from the new Trots Drop mixture. Brexit Valerie van ’t  Zwartewaeter, a 55-year-old gallery owner from Wassenaar, has taken to social media to protest. ‘I knew exactly what would happen post-Brexit and I’m laying in a good stock now,’ she told DutchNews.nl. ‘But all good things must come to an end and with my pack-a-day habit it’ll be sooner rather than later.  All we’ll have left is  boring sweets, and all because of David Cameron.’ She added: ‘As if my blood pressure isn’t high enough as it is.’ Meanwhile, Bertie Plasman, former PVV council candidate for Zoetermeer, said it was another instance of 'Brussels destroying our Dutch traditions'. 'And what could be more Dutch than Engelse Drop?,' he told DutchNews.nl. Gender neutral 'I foresee all sorts of problems if this ban goes ahead,' he said. 'Will our bakers have to stop selling moorkoppen and negerzoenen? And what about blue and pink mice? They'll either be banned on hygiene grounds or we'll be told to make them gender neutral. 'We need to resist this firmly before EU inspectors start going round people's homes checking that every time you make a cup of English tea you leave the bag in for half an hour and add enough milk to drown a sparrow. If that fails, we should follow Britain out of the EU and take our stroopwafels with us. Hit them where it hurts.' Carrots But professor Rose Candy, studying the origins of sweetmeats at Zoutelande polytechnic, believes Trots Drop could actually be an improvement. ‘While rooting around in the diaries of one of Amsterdam’s early mayors, I spotted a reference to a sweet, made from sugar beet and dyed and flavoured with liquorice root and the different colours of carrot that Dutch contemporary farmers were developing,’ she said. ‘Trots Drop could reinvent this wonderfully, and be dyed with all of the delicious shades of the carrot rainbow.’  More >