Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte condemns US for 'bullish' move on Iran deal

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has described the way  US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal as 'bullish'. Speaking to broadcaster NOS in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, where he is attending the EU summit, Rutte said: 'After being urged by Europe not to do it, the US goes and pulls out of the deal with Iran in a very bullish way.' 'America is doing all sorts of things under its own steam, without taking its allies into account. And that is not a good thing.' Rutte went on to say that friendship with the US remains important, but that the assumption that friends listen to each other and take each other into account 'would appear to have been shot through'. 'As Europe, we have a major role in the world, but Europe will need to develop more self-confidence to pursue that role,' he said. 'You can see that now with Iran. We want to try and keep the deal in place as much as possible.' Earlier in the day, EU president Donald Tusk condemned the US’s withdrawal from the Iran deal in a speech at the start of the summit. 'We are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration. Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, some could even think, "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"', Tusk said.  More >

NL foreign minister welcomes Brexit deal

News that the British cabinet has agreed to support Wednesday's agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the EU has been welcomed by Dutch foreign affairs minister Stef Blok as ‘a good step’. ‘The Netherlands and the other 27 members states will study the concept text, including the political declaration, very carefully,’ Blok said. ‘The way the deal over customs union as a back stop demands close examination.’ The Dutch government, he said, will also look at the documents from the perspective of the Dutch interest, and ‘extra attention will be paid to agreements on the level playing field and fishing.’ The Netherlands has been particularly concerned about the impact of Britain's withdrawal on the Dutch fishing industry, much of which is based in the UK. Agreement on the deal, which still has to be approved by European leaders, the European parliament and the British parliament, has led to sharply divided reactions in both the Netherlands and Britain. ‘The mindf*ck is that many are now relieved that there is initial agreement, while of course the entire #Brexit affairs is a lose-lose that we will long remember,’ said Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake on Twitter. Businessman Stephen Huyton, who has lived in the Netherlands for 23 years, says the deal avoids the 'cliff edge' scenario but still has a long way to go. 'Since the document was published last night and is almost 600 pages long, it’s going to be a case of the devil in the detail. Until the experts have read the documents in full I will reserve judgement,' he told DutchNews.nl. 'On a personal note, as I understand it, a UK national will cease to be an EU resident as from end March so will be obliged to use non EU passport lines like somebody from, say, Australia. This is going to be a challenge at Schiphol.' Citizens' rights The parts of the withdrawal agreement on citizens rights were agreed in March and have not changed since then despite a Europe-wide campaign for change. This means British nationals will be able to stay, work and use the healthcare services in the Netherlands but will lose their right to move to another EU country. Some 87,000 people in the Netherlands currently hold British nationality, according to the latest figures from national statistics office CBS. Blok said last month the Netherlands will ensure a ‘decent solution‘ for British citizens in the Netherlands if there is a no-deal Brexit. ‘We will not abandon these people,’ Blok said. ‘Even in a no-deal scenario we will make sure there is a decent solution so that British nationals can stay in our country after March 30, 2019.’ DutchNews.nl has asked both the foreign affairs ministry and the immigration service IND for comment. More to follow You can comment on this story using the section below.  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 >