Dutch Brussels bill set to rise if new EU budget plan goes ahead

The Netherlands will be presented with a much higher bill by Brussels if the commission's new budget plans are passed in their present form, Dutch media said on Wednesday. The Netherlands currently pays some €7bn a year into the Brussels coffers, but that could rise to around €10m if the plans go through, experts say. In total, the commission is set to propose that the budget should translate into 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income for the period 2021-2027, up from 1% at present. Wednesday's presentation is only a proposal which will still have to be approved by the European parliament and European leaders. Nevertheless, the plan marks the start of a lengthy and difficult political discussion. The Netherlands, for example, wants Brussels to make major spending cuts to keep the budget increase down. Currently some 40% of the budget goes to agriculture and 35% to poorer EU regions in an effort to boost their economies. The Netherlands is one of 11 countries which currently pay more into the EU coffers than they get out. The departure of Britain, also a net payer, will only add to the pressure on the budget. Rebates Countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark currently get a rebate - in the case of the Netherlands, some €1bn a year. The commission has said it wants to scrap the rebates when Britain leaves, although according to the Financial Times, that proposal may have been softened. EU commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is in charge of the budget, has been touring EU countries to gather support for the new spending package. Earlier this year he visited The Hague and was described at the time by Socialist MP Renske Leijten as 'an old-fashioned eurocrat who came to tell us how the EU worked'. Deadline The commission hopes to have completed the negotiations by the summer but sources in Brussels told broadcaser NOS that is unlikely to be reached. In particular, net payers such as the Netherlands are in no hurry to complete the talks and next year, a new commission will be appointed, clearing the way for a change in strategy, NOS said. Sources in Brussels have told website Politico that the commission will also propose cutting off EU funds to member countries that do not respect the rule of law, putting pressure on Poland and Hungary where democratic standards are under threat. Any rise in the Dutch bill will only fan anti-EU sentiment in the Netherlands and today's proposal was greeted by the Telegraaf with a headline reading 'We have to bleed for the EU'.  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) pic.twitter.com/aZirnPpBsP — 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. pic.twitter.com/dV75NGKpgI — 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 DutchNews.nl 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 >