Dutch to appeal against Europe's ban on pulse fishing

Fisheries minister Carola Schouten has told the Dutch fishing industry she is to appeal against a ban on pulse fishing which the European Union is set to implement, website Nu.nl said on Friday. The European parliament voted in favour of the ban, which will have a major impact on the Dutch fishing industry, on Tuesday. The appeal process can take several years, and so nothing will now change for the fishermen in the short term, the website quotes the minister as saying in her letter to the industry. Dutch fishermen have invested millions of euros in specialized equipment since the ban on pulse fishing was lifted several years ago under a scheme to allow research into ‘innovative methods’ and some 40% of the Dutch fleet now uses the system. Pulse fishing involves sending a current of electricity through sections of the sea bed, partially stunning sole and plaice and forcing some into the net. Its supporters say pulse fishing is less destructive than beam trawling, which involves dragging a heavy metal bar across the sea bed. Opponents say it is a cruel and unnecessary method of fishing and is depleting fish stocks.  More >

Spanish workers slam Dutch exploitation

Complaints by Spanish workers who are say they are being exploited by Dutch employers have been brought to the attention of the European parliament ahead of this week’s debate about a new European Labour Authority which connects national labour inspectorates, the Financieele Dagblad reports. Complaints from Spanish workers, presented to the European parliament at the invitation of the ruling socialist party PSOE last week, include fewer working hours than initially promised, poor living and working conditions and contracts promising a fixed monthly wage that turn out to be zero hour contracts. ‘Young Spaniards are often given the completely wrong information,’ María Bruquetas of Spanish council for Spanish nationals in the Netherlands told the paper. ‘They are promised a minimum wage of €1,600 a month but they are not told that they will never get that on their zero hour contracts and that high fixed costs are also subtracted from what is already a poor wage.’ Bruquetas also said the fact that employment agencies can fire people at will is discriminatory against Spanish workers because they are much harder hit than Dutch workers. Some 478 complaints from Spanish workers were registered at the Spanish embassy in The Hague in 2018. One worker recruited by the agency to work at a bike factory told El País he was not given adequate safety shoes and when he injured his foot handling what he claimed was a heavy and inadequate piece of equipment, he did not receive medical attention for two days. Many of the complaints refer to circumstances which are not against the law but show the temporary work sector needs regulating, said FNV official Tuur Elzinga who has been combating the excesses of flex work for years. Elzinga said the complaints are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and that workers from Poland and Bulgaria in the same position. Veto Whether or not the new labour authority will solve the problem is not certain, Elzinga said, because it will have a ‘limited mandate’ and member states can block a joint inspection. However, Manuel Velásquez of the Spanish labour inspectorate said the direct contacts between national labour liaison officials will help track down and combat clandestine employment, illegal detachment and insufficient safety measures. ‘Often we are dealing with letterbox companies which disappear suddenly or lie about their location. ELA will help us to finally access reliable information about workers and employers,’ he told the FD.  More >

Minister firm on Albanian visa calls

A majority of MPs want ministers to pressure Brussels to reintroduce visas for Albanian nationals, broadcaster NOS said on Friday. MPs consider this is the only way to stop criminal gangs entering the country, and the move is backed by Amsterdam police and justice ministry officials, NOS said. Albanian gangs are said to be central to the Dutch drugs and money laundering industries. However, ministers argue that bringing back visas is a 'hopeless' task and that Albania does meet EU criteria for visa-free travel. Foreign minister Stef Blok told MPs that he does not intend to attempt to make a case for reintroducing visas. 'I am extremely disappointed that the minister is not in a position to say 'this is causing problems in the Netherlands. We have to apply the emergency brake,' Christian Democrat MP Madeleine van Toorenburg said during Thursday's debate on the issue.  More >

Brexit dual nationality plan under fire

Draft legislation to give dual nationality rights to British nationals in the Netherlands and Dutch nationals in the UK should not be adopted by parliament, according to the government's most senior advisory group, the Council of State. The legislation, drawn up by several MPs, has now been tabled in parliament but faces a daunting task to get accepted even though Brexit is a ‘unique situation which requires unique measures’ backer Sjoerd Sjoerdsma told DutchNews.nl earlier. The Dutch currently only allow dual nationality in a few, specific circumstances, although an overhaul was promised in the coalition agreement. This means that currently most Dutch people in the UK would lose their Dutch passports if they become British, and the same for British nationals in the Netherlands. Brexit noodwet formeel ingediend samen met @LodewijkA en @MvRooijen. 🇳🇱 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 Nu zo snel mogeljjk behandelen om zekerheid te geven aan Nederlanders in het VK en Britten hier! — Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma (@swsjoerdsma) April 10, 2019 In its recommendations, the Council of State says the measure proposed by the MPs is 'far reaching' and points out that it would create a specific group of citizens who are allowed dual nationality. It is therefore important to assess if the same effect can be achieved by alternative means. The measures proposed by the government and Brussels already deal with an 'important part' of the impact of Brexit and there is insufficient reason to make an exception for British nationals in the Netherlands, the council said. Similar arguments apply to the position of Dutch nationals in Britain, the council said. The government does have plans to modernise the dual nationality laws, but the justice ministry told DutchNews.nl last month that no date has yet been set for the publication of draft legislation. A ministry spokesman said the process to develop the legislation is still ongoing and no time frame can be given at the moment. ‘All relevant jurisprudence is being looked at,’ the spokesman said.  More >

Dutch welcome agreement on Brexit delay

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has said he is pleased that European leaders have reached agreement on extending the Brexit deadline to October 31, describing the deal as an 'acceptable compromise'. The agreement heads off a 'cliff hanger' no-deal scenario which would have been bad for the Netherlands and Europe as a whole, Rutte said. 'It is important that the union should continue to function and this agreement will achieve this,' Rutte told reporters. 'Many countries thought that the British would not be able to get everything done by June 30.' There were differences of opinion between European leaders about the new Brexit delay but they eventually agreed on the end of October, with an evaluation of the progress at the end of June. 'We are going to work together, all of us, to make sure that this gets done,' Rutte said. Britain is now legally required to hold elections for the European parliament next month. Without elections, the UK's membership of the EU will automatically cease, the Dutch prime minister pointed out. The new position means that the Netherlands will retain its current 26 seats in the parliament. It had been set to increase its representation to 29 following Britain's withdrawal.  More >

The Dutch may not back eurozone budget

The Netherlands will not contribute to the current separate eurozone budget plans drawn up by France if it does not fulfill the Dutch government’s demands, finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has told the Financial Times. The Dutch government's conditions include giving a veto on spending decisions to individual member states and Hoekstra has privately told the eurogroup he is ready to let the other 18 eurozone countries go ahead without the Netherlands, the FT reported. The Netherlands has always opposed the concept of a separate eurozone budget, which conflicts with the government's commitment to ensuring each country can stand on its own two feet. The plan is due to be finalised in June. In particular, Hoekstra is concerned that richer countries may be continually shoring up poorer lands if the eurozone ends up with a far reaching budget. 'This is highly sensitive and for us to subscribe to this, it should really meet our requirements and desires. Only then will it be something that we will take part in,' Hoekstra is quoted as saying.  More >