Dutch refugee groups disappointed in EU migration deal

Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland said on Friday it is disappointed with the results of the EU summit in Brussels, at which leaders discussed ways to solve the issue of African migration. 'It is extremely disappointing that the EU is not capable of finding solutions which contribute to the protection of refugees,' the organisation said. Europe is shifting the responsibility for offering help to people in trouble to others and keeping its borders closed, the group said. 'Nor is there any solution to the situation of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.' The organisation also referred to the 'inhuman conditions' in which refugees are living in Italy and Greece, which, it said, did not come up for discussion. 'Instead, EU ministers want to lock up refugees in new, closed centres in southern Europe.' Much remains unclear about the agreement struck by ministers at a 10 hour meeting. Dutch prime minister Mark 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.’  More >

PVV will not join Steve Bannon's movement

The Dutch anti-Islam party PVV will not join the far right European political movement launched by US president Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon. Marcel de Graaff, who leads the PVV in the European parliament, told broadcaster NOS in an interview that the project involves people whom 'we absolutely do not want to work with'. 'That is why we are explicitly distancing ourselves from The Movement,' he said. In particular, Belgian politician Mischael Modrikamen 'is making all sorts of political statements which we do not support,' De Graaff said. The launch of The Movement has twice been postponed and is now scheduled to take place in January.  According to broadcaster NOS, other right-wing populist parties, including the Front Nationale and Sweden Democrats, have also said they do not support the plan.   More >

Firms fear rise in post-Brexit red tape

While 80% of Dutch firms expect Brexit to have an impact, half of them have no idea what to expect and have taken no action to deal with it, according to new research by the Dutch chambers of trade KvK. 'It would appear that companies are taking a 'wait and see' stance because of all the uncertainties,' chairwoman Claudia Zuiderwijk said. 'But whether there is a deal or no deal, doing business with Britain is going to change considerably.' One third of the company bosses polled said they expected that Brexit would damage their business prospects and seven in 10 are worried about increasing red tape. Other issues that concern people are levies and taxes (54%), import duties (51%), future differences in laws and regulations (51%), and delays at the border (49%), the survey showed. Last month, research by the foreign affairs ministry suggested just one in five Dutch firms which do business with Britain were ready for Brexit. Some 77,000 companies in the Netherlands do business with the UK, particularly those involved in the chemicals and food sectors. Earlier this year, the national statistics agency CBS said trade with the UK would appear to be stagnating because of Brexit. Research by DutchNews.nl last month also showed that 40% of British nationals living in the Netherlands had done nothing to regulate their post Brexit stay.  More >

Dutch PM 'cautiously optimistic' on Brexit

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday evening he is 'cautiously optimistic' that progress will be made next week on the negotiations for Britain to leave the EU. 'I think that next week we can be very cautiously optimistic that we will make progress,' Rutte said at a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel.  'An awful lot depends on the talks in the coming days.' Many of the problems are now being solved on a step by step basis 'but there are, of course' several big issues which we really need to get to grips with,' the prime minister said. These include the future relationship between Britain and the single market, including the Irish border, Rutte said. Merkel, who was in the Netherlands for talks with Rutte ahead of next week's meeting, said that she is pleased intensive discussions are now taking place. 'There would appear to be progress, but sometimes the devil is in the details,' she said.  More >