Dutch news in brief, Monday 16 March 2009

16th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Labour Party conference gives leadership what it wants

Today's edition of Trouw reports on the Labour Party conference held in Utrecht at the weekend. The paper writes that the "conference had wishes, no demands."

Ahead of the conference, Labour coalition partners the Christian Democratic CDA and the Christian Union feared the conference might interfere with the ongoing talks about an approach to the financial crisis.

However, even though the delegates had a long list of wishes and desires on a large number of issues, including development cooperation, social security and defence, party leader and Finance Minister Wouter Bos and parliamentary party leader Mariëtte Hamer got the elbow room they requested for the coming negotiations.

In his speech to the conference, Bos underlined the necessity for a stimulus package for the coming years, but warned his fellow party members the money had to come from somewhere.

"There is nothing left-wing or progressive about introducing expensive policies, increasing the budget deficit and the national debt, but then making oneself scarce when the bill comes due."

The finance minister says he wants to conclude solid agreements on reducing the budget deficit and the national debt and set these agreements down in law.

Three billion euros' worth of budget cuts a year

In a related story, AD reports that the "Coalition agrees on cuts, the question is when."

The three coalition partners CDA (Christian Democrats), Labour and the Christian Union are likely to reach agreement on long-term budget cuts of about three billion euros a year.

According to the paper, sources say the current debate is on when these cuts are to come into force.

In any case, the cuts would have to remain in place until the treasury is in good shape again.

The coalition wants to set the measures down in law, so that future cabinets would also have to work hard to eliminate the budget deficit.

The CDA wants to introduce the budget cuts in 2010, the Christian Union wants to wait until 2011, while minister Bos wants to introduce the cuts when the economy is back on its feet again.

At this weekend's Labour Party conference, Bos warned against introducing budget cuts immediately when the economy shows signs of recovery to avoid "pushing it right back into a recession."

AD writes that insiders doubt whether an agreement can be concluded any time soon.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende leaves to travel abroad on Wednesday, which means the negotiations can only be continued after the weekend.

Proud Of the Netherlands: not quite dead yet

De Volkskrant wonders whether former integration Minister Rita Verdonk and her party Proud of the Netherlands (PON) "are on a slide or a roller coaster."

Verdonk's recent, and highly embarrassing retraction of accusations against a former associate was followed by a drop in the polls to two seats on Thursday, and a further drop to one seat in a poll taken on Sunday.

Only ten months ago, PON still scored 26 seats in the polls and Verdonk then stated she had set her sights on 40 seats and the premiership. However, no less than 300 supporters showed up on Sunday afternoon for a party rally intended to allow supporters to 'think along' with the party leadership and so influence the eventual party programme.

According to de Volkskrant, many PON supporters are already active in other, local, parties, which helps explain why they didn't want their picture taken. The other reason is that they are watching the polls.

The paper writes that a local councillor with a southern accent said: "We'll just have to wait and see how it goes."

Most of the people who originally said they would vote for Rita Verdonk's party, have switched to Geert Wilder's Freedom Party.

De Volkskrant argues that two-thirds of Verdonk's original supporters, good for 16 seats, still regard her as a good second choice.

"One mistake by Geert Wilders, and Rita Verdonk could make a comeback."

Victims of identity theft powerless

Also in AD a report on a ruling by a court in The Hague, in which the judges say that the state has no responsibility for the wrongful registration of personal data. The court ruled that a victim of identity theft must personally approach all 25 police forces to correct any mistakes made by police officers.

The case was brought by Ron Kowsoleea, a victim of identity theft who has been trying to clear his name for the past 15 years.

Kowsoleea has been arrested more than 40 times after a former classmate, known as Imro C. (Dutch law bans the publication of the last name of suspects and convicts), gave Kowsoleea's name and date of birth to police officers when he was arrested.

Apparently, police officers never bothered to check the data provided by the suspect, and all attempts to have the mistake removed from police databases proved futile, also because Imro C. kept using Kowsoleea's name whenever he was arrested.

Kowsoleea now has a criminal record of 43 felonies, and Imro C. is serving time under Kowsoleea's name.

The national Ombudsman has published a damning report, in which it writes that the government should apologise to Kowsoleea, pay compensation and appoint a mediator to resolve the issue. He also said the government should correct mistakes in police databases because a victim of identity theft cannot.

Fishermen launch campaign to save eels from extinction

Today’s edition of De Telegraaf has a picture of a fisherman releasing 100,000 young eels in a canal in the south of the country.

Fisherman Klaas Klop says his company wants "to operate on a basis of future-oriented, sustainable working methods."

"It would be fantastic if future generations could still fish for eels."

However, Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg wants more. To prevent Dutch eels from becoming extinct, the minister has introduced an annual ban on eel fishing for the month of October to ensure another 100 tonnes of young eels reach open sea on their way to the species' mating grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

Scientists say that the number of young eels entering the country has dropped to about one percent of previously recorded levels.

Radio Netherlands/Georg Scheuder Hes/Expatica

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