Rutte says EU deal to reduce migration is 'big step forward'

European leaders have reached an agreement on dealing with the flow of African migrants after a marathon 10 hour meeting in Brussels, and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte says the deal is 'good news'. Details of the agreement are still sketchy but European leaders have agreed to talk to north African countries about halting the flow of migrants. Rutte spoke at the end of the meeting about a 'Turkey-like deal', referring to the EU's agreement to give Turkey financial support in return for halting the flow of refugees.' 'We need to take the extent and the equality of our cooperation with Africa to a new level,' European leaders said in a joint statement at the end of the summit. 'This will not only require increased development funding but also steps towards creating a new framework enabling a substantial increase of private investment from both Africans and Europeans.' Africa is our neighbour and this must be expressed by increased exchanges and contacts among the peoples of both continents on all levels of civil society, the statement continued.  'Cooperation between the European Union and the African Union is an important element of our relationship. The European Council calls for further developing and promoting it.' Big step forward Rutte told reporters after the meeting that it was not simple to come to a deal. 'And I am not going to say we have solved the issue,' he said. 'But we have taken a big step forward and after eight years in Brussels, I know Europe means doing things step by step.' The meeting, he said, had not made Europe either stronger or more vulnerable. 'There are issues which we can't solve as individual countries,' he said. 'The migration streams, our safety, border security and climate change, we have to deal with these things together.' Italy's hard line prime minister Giuseppe Conte said the deal took 'long negotiation, but from today Italy is no longer alone.' More on the European agreement  More >

Malta opposes Dutch rapporteur

The Maltese government has accused Dutch MP Pieter Omzigt who is investigating the handling of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Galizia, of ‘partiality’ following a critical first report into the matter. However, the request by MP Manuel Mallia to have Omtzigt replaced as a European council rapporteur was rejected, the Times of Malta reported. So, on the record, 'the government [of Malta] is disappointed that the Parliamentary Assembly did not take the opportunity to review my rapporteurship [on the assassination of Daphne Carurana Galizia] an appoint someone who can be trusted to be independent, impartial... (1) — Pieter Omtzigt (@PieterOmtzigt) September 12, 2018 Galizia, an investigative journalist who wrote a much-read blog on corruption in her country which frequently involved politicians, was killed by a car bomb near her home in 2017. The Maltese government has ruled out that the murder could be connected to criticism of the government but questions have been raised by Europe's law enforcement body Europol about the Maltese government’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation into her death. In May three men were arrested in connection with her death but they have denied any involvement. The search for the perpetrators is ongoing. In his report, Omtzigt found that the Maltese state of law and the murder inquiry itself were seriously flawed and that conflicts of interest touched people in high places, including the prime minister, RTL Nieuws writes. Omzigt, who is preparing for another visit to the island, said he cannot imagine the Maltese government will refuse him access into the country. ‘They are under an obligation to  cooperate and that is what I am counting on,’ he told RTL.  More >

Hunt for Dutchman missing in Norway

Norwegian detectives have launched a major hunt for a Dutch cyber security expert who went missing in Norway two weeks ago. The hunt for Arjen Kamphuis, 47, has been joined by a police team known as Kripos, who specialise in organised crime and disappearances, Norwegian police said in a press release. Kamphuis was last seen in the northern town of Bodo on August 20 and should have returned to the Netherlands on August 22 but he never arrived. According to Dutch media he is an expert in cyber security who advises governments, journalists and human rights experts. He is also an associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.   .@JulianAssange associate and author of "Information Security for Journalists" @ArjenKamphuis has disappeared according to friends (@ncilla) and colleagues. Last seen in Bodø, #Norway, 11 days ago on August 20. — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 31, 2018   More >

One in five Dutch firms ready for Brexit

Just one in five Dutch companies are taking action to prepare themselves for Brexit, according to research carried out by the foreign affairs ministry. That is 'absolutely not enough', trade minister Sigrid Kaag said in a reaction. 'Brexit on march 29 is getting closer and all scenarios are possible, even the very worst.' Companies should make sure they are aware of the risks to their operations, the minister said. 'Even if you don't do business with Britain, Brexit could affect you,' she said. The foreign affairs ministry has set up a special 'Brexit counter' to answer questions from companies. Almost four in five of the companies polled said they thought the impact of Brexit would be okay. The survey also showed 22% of the 100,000 Dutch nationals in Britain are actively preparing for Brexit. However the survey did not look at British nationals in the Netherlands. How ready are British nationals in the Netherlands for Brexit? Take part in the survey  More >

Few Dutch took part in EU summertime poll

Just 27,000 Dutch nationals took part in the online poll organised by the European Commission to look into ending the annual process of putting the clocks one hour forward in March and back again in October, according to a German newspaper. Commission chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday that the poll, in which 4.6 million people voted, showed ‘the people want it and we shall make sure it happens.’ However, it now transpires that over three million of the voters were in Germany, representing just under 4% of the population. But in 25 of the 28 EU member countries, the percentage was below 1%. Nevertheless, campaigners have welcomed the boost provided by the poll. Dutch Christian Democrat MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik has been trying to end the ‘pointless ritual’ for years. ‘Stopping shifting the clock is good for health, families and companies,’ she said on Twitter. ‘Democracy wins because Brussels is listening to the people. I am calling on the Dutch government to support this.’ Before any change can take place, the European Commission must first agree to the measure and put forward a draft law on abolishing daylight saving time. It would then need to be approved in both the European parliament and by member governments. Three countries – Greece, Cyprus and Malta – voted narrowly against the plan in the commission's poll, but in all other countries there is a large majority in favour of ending the switch every March. There are currently three time zones within the EU.  More >