Forum voor Democratie blunders with German church photo

Anti-immigration party Forum voor Democratie has a made a major blunder on a poster for its campaign in next month's provincial elections by using a photograph of a German cathedral. The mistake was spotted by contributor Molly Quell when she was watching NOS news about the campaign launch on Saturday evening. I guess the FvD wants to make the Netherlands German again? — Molly Quell (@MollyQuell) February 17, 2019 The church on the poster is actually a stock photograph from the German town of Limburg an der Lahn. Local campaign leader Ruud Burlet told the Limburger he could not believe a mistake had been made and that he would have to check it out first. It is the first time FvD has competed in the provincial elections.  More >

MEP: Venezuela ban will have consequences

A European Parliament delegation including Dutch MEP Esther de Lange has been refused entry to Venezuela to observe how medical supplies are reaching people behind the blockade. De Lange said the group, from the centre-right European People's Party coalition, had been invited by Venezuela's parliament to observe the humanitarian situation on the ground, only to be turned away by officials at Caracas airport. The CDA politician posted a short film on Twitter explaining that the MEPs had been told by an official to take the 'first flight back to Madrid'. Her German colleague, Manfred Weber, called for immediate action and said the European Union should recognise opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's president. My colleagues @eppgroup were denied access to Venezuela tonight. The Maduro regime is scared of what foreign observers will see. He is denying people food and freedom. I expect the EU to act immediately and recognise Juan Guaido as the legitimate President of the country. — Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) February 18, 2019 The United States and European nations including France, Spain, the UK and the Netherlands have severed diplomatic ties with President Nicolas Maduró after a deadline to hold 'free and fair' elections expired last month. In a video filmed in Caracas, De Lange said: 'The chairman of the foreign affairs committee is waiting for us outside the airport, but we're not being allowed to enter the country. 'We've been told by an official representing the government that we will have to take the first plane back to Madrid. So we're being expelled and there will undoubtedly be consequences. 'It's a real shame, because we weren't here to provoke. We came here to see how medical help was getting to people on the ground and to plea for humanitarian aid to be allowed into the country for those who are suffering most from this situation.' Update over wat er zojuist gebeurde op het vliegveld van Caracas. @gonzalezpons @GabrielMatoA @EPPGroup — Esther de Lange (@Esther_de_Lange) February 18, 2019   More >

MPs want transparency on Facebook ads

Facebook app on mobile phone Dutch MPs have almost unanimously backed a motion calling on the government to pressure Facebook to come clean about political advertising ahead of the provincial elections in March. Only the right-wing VVD and anti-Islam PVV opposed the motion which urged ministers to call for more transparency in political advertising. This transparency is necessary, MPs say, because 'social media, including Facebook, offer a platform to political fake adverts' at both election time and on other occasions. Facebook said at the end of January that it would bring new political advertising rules and tools introduced in the US and UK last year into countries which are holding significant elections this year. These measures will not, however, come into effect in the Netherlands before the end of March, after the provincial elections. MPs say Facebook should come clean about the origins of political advertising three weeks ahead of the provincial vote on March 20. Facebook has said its new rules will be in effect in Europe ahead of the EU parliamentary elections which take place between May 23 and May 26.  More >

Parliament sealed off after security scare

The Dutch parliamentary complex in The Hague was closed off for a time on Friday afternoon after a man was spotted acting suspiciously. The man, later said by police to be a 38-year-old from the Frisian town of Sneek, was arrested after he was heard using threatening language. According to RTL Nieuws journalist Frits Wester, the man said he wanted to carry out an attack and threw down a rucksack. The rucksack did not contain any explosives and the cordons were removed at around 2.30pm.  More >

Ministers 'open' to carbon tax

The cabinet is open to the concept of a carbon tax as part of a package of measures to stop climate change, ministers said during Tuesday's debate on the climate agreement finalised at the end of last year. The climate agreement has been widely criticised for appearing to give industry an easy ride and for failing to introduce a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, an issue raised again by opposition parties on Tuesday. 'We are open to all solutions,' economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes said, while prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs 'there are no taboos and we are going to look at it.' Nevertheless, Rutte said he personally did not think a 'simple fine' would lead to the desired reduction in CO2 emissions. The aim of the agreeemnt is to cut CO2 emissions 49% by 2030 when compared with 1990. And Wiebes warned that companies would be likely to 'skip over the border' if the Netherlands becomes too expensive, news agency ANP reported. Rutte told the debate he hoped to reach consensus on the plans in parliament in April and May when experts have finished calculating the cost of the plans as they now stand. Then real choices can be made and a 'real' debate can take place, the prime minister said. Two of the four coalition parties - D66 and ChristenUnie - are also known to favour some form of carbon tax. The climate plans, presented at the end of last year after nine months of talks, were drawn up by five separate groups and cover mobility, electricity, industry, agriculture and the built environment.  More >