Dutch news in brief, Thursday 2 October 2008

2nd October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

2 October 2008

Global financial crisis
Most of today's papers feature stories on the worldwide financial crisis. Trouw writes that the "US Senate is the last straw of a nation of shareholders". The headline refers to the bailout plan for US banks that was voted down in the House of Representatives on Monday. Late Wednesday night, the US Senate approved an amended version of the plan by a wide majority of 74 to 25 votes.

The paper features a front-page photo of a man dressed in pink who opposes the US rescue plan. Stuck to the palm of his raised hand is a sticker reading "the bailout is b......t".

De Volkskrant prints a photo of President George W Bush with a portrait of the first US president George Washington in the background.

According to de Volkskrant: "President Bush has lost all authourity". On Monday, the House ignored the president, a striking contrast to the past.

The financial crisis is also affecting US status abroad. In a commentary in Trouw, former CDA MP Joop van Rijswijk writes:  "The US can no longer ignore its allies. The country has been downgraded too much by the crisis".

Today’s nrc.next front page headline reads: "Who would want to emulate a country that's going bust?"

According to the paper, "For years the US exported its economic model of capitalism and democracy. Countries had to adopt it if they wanted assistance from the International Monetary Fund. This model is now no longer credible".

Bos wants managers to return bonuses
In a related story, AD reports that Finance Minister Wouter Bos has announced that top managers of troubled banks and insurance companies must pay back their bonuses. According to the paper, the credit crisis was in part caused by the excessive bonuses awarded to top managers of financial institutions when they earn large profits.

Minister Bos wants the Dutch central bank to supervise whether bonuses were properly awarded. In parliament he said: "If the financial sector is unable to regulate itself, we will have to introduce legislation".

Fortis bank withheld information before takeover
Today's de Volkskrant reports that "Fortis bank kept investment fund of its balance sheet". Fortis was recently rescued by the French, Belgian and Dutch governments for EUR 11.2-billion. When it took over ABN Amro bank, Fortis removed a EUR 18 billion investment fund named Scaldis from its records and reports. Investors were unable to consider the bank's influence by Scaldis.  

In parliament, Finance Minister Wouter Bos asked on Tuesday if he was aware of necessary information when he granted Fortis permission for the takeover in the fall of 2007.

Financial experts expect that as a result of the credit crisis, Fortis will suffer a EUR 500 million loss on Scaldis.

Developers build houses on top of apartment blocks to save space
De Telegraaf features a story on a group of urban development experts, housing corporations, architects and property developers who want to build new houses on the flat roofs of existing apartment blocks.

The group, named Bovenstad, or Upper City, says the surface area of all flat roofs in the Netherlands is equal to around 8,000 football fields. Around a third of this surface area is reportedly appropriate for building.

Bovenstad completed five projects in Dordrecht, Delft, Scheveningen, Groningen and The Hague.

The group says its projects demonstrate efficient use of space, which adds value, spares the landscape and eases the current housing shortage. Bovenstad board member Jan Brouwer says: "Of course, it must be technically feasible. In addition, there are legal and social aspects that need to be taken into consideration".

EU proposes direct relationship between pharmaceutical companies and patients
Trouw reports that Brussels wants to allow pharmaceutical companies to directly approach patients. The European Commission submitted a proposal giving the pharmaceutical industry a bigger role in the supervision of drug safety, including listing side effects.

The commission also wants to allow the industry to directly approach patients about prescription drugs. A similar proposal was rejected by a wide majority in the European parliament in 2004.

The latest version of the plan also met with fierce resistance. Health organisations in nearly all EU member states have complaints about the proposal.

Director Ruud Coolen of the Institute for Responsible Drug Use, or DGV, says: “The European Commission abuses patients' rights to information to boost industrial marketing. No patient will be any smarter, wiser or healthier as a result. This proposal will needlessly make public health much more expensive. The only party which stands to benefit is the pharmaceutical industry". The DGV is an advisor to Health Minister Ab Klink.

Court limits lawsuits by organisations
Also on the front page of Trouw is a report on the Council of State, the Netherlands' highest administrative court, which "has told 'professional plaintiffs' they need to find another job".

On Wednesday, the Council ruled that associations and foundations in the future will have to prove they are not filing lawsuits in order to delay controversial projects. Associations and foundations also must prove they are directly affected by the lawsuits they bring, whether the lawsuit involves protection of an endangered species, the expansion of an airport or a new industrial pig farm.

Lawsuits brought by organisations which do not meet the new criteria will be dismissed, and the organisations will be unable to file complaints against administrative decisions.

Trouw writes that local and provincial authourities, as well as poultry and pig farmers, will appreciate the Council's ruling. It is considered a setback for environmental activists, who usually work in a range of smaller organisations, but is also expected to affect larger special interest groups.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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