Did she listen to Rihanna? Dutch aid minister donates €100m to education

Dutch aid minister Sigrid Kaag has told the United Nations meeting in New York that the Netherlands is to donate €20m a year up to 2023 to the Global Partnership for Education - slightly more than pop star Rihanna called on the Netherlands to donate last month. 'Education is one of my policy priorities,' Kaag said. 'It offers women and young people better opportunities for work and a decent income.' A spokesman for the minister told broadcaster NOS later than she had not been influenced by Rihanna's plea. 'It was the minister's own decision,' the spokesman said. Hi @SigridKaag @markrutte @MinPres! I know that the Netherlands wanted to pledge to support global education back in February, so I'd love if you joined me now! Will you provide $100M to @GPforEducation on Sept 29 at the @GlblCtzn Fest? Dank je! @claralionelfdn 🇳🇱📚 — Rihanna (@rihanna) August 20, 2018 Kaag had said in a reply to Rihanna that 'all will be revealed in New York'. Another €15m is going to aid group Education Cannot Wait which boosts the access of children in crisis regions to education and almost €60m to the Global Financing Facility which helps countries set up healthcare programmes for women.   More >

Defence ministry to buy Dutch

The Dutch armed forces should focus orders for new equipment on the Netherlands, to both boost the economy and help national security, according to defence minister Ank Bijleveld. The minister's new procurement policy will be published later on Thursday and sets out parameters for an increase in spending by the armed forces after years of cuts. The minister believes that giving priority to Dutch companies does not conflict with EU rules on tenders. Even if an order has to be placed abroad, Dutch firms should be as involved as possible, broadcaster NOS quotes the minister as saying. 'The security situation has worsened and Europe and the Netherlands have to stand on their own two feet,' the minister said. 'We have to be able to protect ourselves. That requires starting from a good level of expertise, technology and capacity.'  More >

VVD support drops in new poll of polls

Support for the ruling right-wing liberal VVD has dropped in the latest poll of polls but has gone up for the anti-Islam PVV and the Labour party. The poll of polls, an amalgam of six separate opinion polls, puts support for the VVD at between 24 and 28 seats in the 150 seat parliament, if there were a general election tomorrow. That is equivalent to between 16% and 18.7% of the vote and down four seats on a month ago. At the same time, support for the anti-immigration PVV led by Geert Wilders has risen by an average of two seats, putting the party on between 12.7% and 15.3% support. The Labour party, which was hammered at the last general election, has also gone up to between 12 and 14 seats. It won nine in March 2017. The VVD's problems have been partly caused by the discussion about scrapping the dividend tax, poll compiler Tom Louwerse says. In addition, the party has gone down considerably in the Maurice de Hond opinion poll and this may have distorted the results. Nevertheless, with five months to go before the indirect vote for the senate, support for the ruling coalition is now well below the 76 needed for a majority in the lower house. The senate is formed on the basis of the results in the provincial council elections which take place in March next year.  More >

'New labour law plans won't work'

Draft legislation aimed at restoring the balance between permanent and flexible employment contracts will not tackle the problem, according to a review by the Council of State. The council is the government's most senior advisory body and advises on all draft legislation. In its response, the council says the government's plans are 'inadequate' and 'could easily lead to new problems elsewhere in the labour market'. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees says the new draft legislation will encourage companies to take on more permanent members of staff. The number of people on flexible contracts has soared in recent years and the new government has pledged to tackle the differences between permanent and flexible employment contracts. The aim of the legislation is to reduce the legal gap between working as an employee or as a temporary worker, Koolmees said at the plan's presentation on Wednesday. To this end, the rules for sacking staff have been relaxed while the period temporary staff can work on short contracts will be extended from two to three years. The changes to redundancy law will allow firms to sack staff after a string of minor misdemeanours rather than one major fail. In addition, maximum trial period that a new employee can be required to work will go up from two to five months. Companies will also get a discount on unemployment benefit premiums if they take on permanent rather than temporary members of staff. Fundamental However, the council said it its recommendations that it will take a fundamental and broader approach to bridge the gap between temporary and permanent jobs. This will require tackling 'labour law, the social security system and tax system', the council said.  More >

Labour joint top of mayoral appointee list

Support for the Labour party (PvdA) may have collapsed at last year's general election, but the party continues to dominate when it comes to new mayoral and other official appointments. So far this year, 11 Labour party supporters have been named as mayors, the same number as for the right-wing Liberal VVD and well above the number of D66 (7) and CDA (6) appointments, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday. Last year, Labour party members accounted for 18 out of 97 new mayoral roles. Mayors in the Netherlands are crown appointees, based on the advice of the local council, rather than elected. Political scientist Nelleke Vedelaar told the paper that political colours are not as important as fitting the job profile drawn up by local officials. 'The Dutch tend to ignore their mayor's political choice and focus more on their managerial qualities,' Vedelaar said. The new PvdA mayors have been appointed in some of the country's biggest towns and cities: Arnhem, Emmen, Zaanstad, Dordrecht and Groningen. The Netherlands has 380 local authority areas of which 31 have a population of more than 100,000.  More >

No compensation in junta pilot case

The Dutch government says it sees no reason to pay damages to a former Transavia pilot found not guilty last year of involvement in death flights on behalf of the Argentine junta last year. Dutch Argentine pilot Julio Poch had always denied involvement in death flights, in which opponents of the junta (1976-1983) were drugged and thrown from planes. At the end of last year he was cleared by a court in Argentina due to a lack of evidence. His legal team then announced plans to sue the Dutch state. ‘It is important to clarify exactly what happened,’ lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops said in January. ‘We have information that influence was exerted at a high level. We want to hear ministers in a court case. This should never happen again.’ Dutch justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs on Monday that there is no reason for the state to recognise the damages claim. 'There are no points which suggest the investigation was illegal,' Grapperhuis said. The investigation, he said, was based on witness statements made from people who heard Poch talking about his past. Poch was arrested in Spain in September 2009 while about to make his final flight for Transavia, where he had worked since 2003. There is no extradition treaty between the Netherlands and Argentina and the Dutch authorities had tipped off both Spain and Argentina as to his whereabouts prior to his arrest. Poch was held in custody for eight years prior to the trial taking place. Update, October 30: The Telegraaf reports that the Dutch state has given financial help to the three witnesses against Poch, despite rejecting several claims by Poch for legal support on the grounds there is 'no Dutch interest' in the case.  More >