British gov't: Brexit not reason for Unilever move to Rotterdam

The British government said on Thursday Unilever had decided to locate its new single headquarters operation to Rotterdam because of long-term strategic restructuring not because of Brexit. The Anglo-Dutch healthcare-to-foods concern confirmed the long-awaited decision to move to Rotterdam in a statement on Thursday. The British government downplayed the shift in a short statement on Twitter. 'As the company has made clear, the decision to move a small group of people to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands ... is not connected to the EU's departure from the EU,' the statement said. And Unilever chief financial officer, Graeme Pitkethly, told the Guardian Brexit 'was absolutely not a factor' in the decision, which was announced after a board meeting and a year-long review. The government’s response to today’s announcement from @Unilever on their long-term commitment to the UK. — Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) March 15, 2018 Unilever has maintained separate headquarters in Rotterdam and London since it was founded in 1930 but has always operated as a single business with a single board of directors. The British government had been lobbying hard to keep Unilever in London as 'proof' to others that Britain remained a good place for corporate investment. But after a failed takeover attempt by  US rival Kraft Heinz last year, Unilever took a closer look at the Rotterdam option because Dutch corporate laws allow companies to adopt ‘poison pill’ anti-takeover defences. Margarine Unilever has been trimming its sails since the Kraft Heinz bid, selling its spreads and margarine division to investment group KKR in December. At the same time it was decided that the dual headquarters structure was too expensive. Unilever will maintain a large presence in Britain, with 7,300 of its 170,000 employees located there, against just over 3,000 in the Netherlands. R&D units are located in both countries. And the vital Beauty & Personal Care and Home Care divisions will continue to be operated from London, Unilever said. Unilever will continue to be listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges.  More >

UK ambassor says ties to NL will continue

Britain's ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Wilson has told a Dutch podcast that he believes the strong relationships between the Netherlands and Britain will endure, despite Brexit. 'We are leaving the EU but we are not divorcing the Dutch,' the ambassador told journalist Jaap Jansen on the new podcast Betrouwbare Bronnen. 'The challenge now is to build a bilateral relationship. We want to remain close to Europe, even though we are leaving the EU.' Wilson said that the two countries need to remember what binds them, such as trade, cultural links and academic relationships, all of which pre-date the UK joining the EU. 'Those relationships will ensure but we are going to have to work at that,' he said. 'We must remind ourselves of the things we have in common.' The interview with the ambassador starts around five minutes in.   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 >