Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 18 August 2009

18th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Westerschelde threatens Netherlands’ relationship with Belgium
NRC Handelsblad reports on the threat of a diplomatic crisis between Belgium and the Netherlands. The Belgians are furious that the Dutch council of state is threatening to halt the dredging of the Westerschelde, which means large ships will be unable to reach the port of Antwerp.

NRC warns that while protests are currently limited to semi-serious campaigns such as a threatened boycott of Dutch mussels, "the Flemish anger is very real" and that "the relationship between Belgium and the Netherlands is deteriorating".

The Belgians suspect foul play despite the environmental concerns aired by the Belgians.

"I can't shake the feeling that there are protectionist ideas at work," said Flemish politician Annick De Ridder. Larger vessels not being able to reach Antwerp can only be good news for its main rival - the Port of Rotterdam.

"The Dutch blocked the Westerschelde back in the 16th and 17th century and turned Antwerp into a ghost town. And there's a risk it will happen all over again. Unless the Westerschelde is dredged, 180,000 jobs could be wiped out."

NRC Handelsblad, backs the Belgians and warns of "an economic conflict between neighbours".

The paper calls on the Dutch government to show what it's made of before a final decision is made at the end of the year: "Provide sufficient protection for the natural environment of the Westerschelde and show that the Netherlands is a trustworthy neighbour."

Change in Dutch policy on swine flu causes confusion
An apparent U-turn in Dutch policy on swine flu is causing confusion and consternation in Tuesday's papers.

When public health fears were at their height the government responded by snapping up enough vaccines to protect everyone in the Netherlands twice over.

But now the flu appears to be less harmful than was first thought, the authorities have scaled back their plans.

Now only high-risk groups and healthcare workers will be vaccinated, hence saving EUR 250 million.

Not everyone's pleased about this latest development, reports de Telegraaf.

The news that the over-60s will be among those first vaccinated has raised some eyebrows, since this group was initially thought to be less at risk than younger people.

But while older people are less likely to catch the virus, they are more likely to become seriously ill as a result, hence the preferential treatment.

"This news has come as a shock to many older people," said a spokesman for senior citizens.

The police have vented their frustration at not being among those to be vaccinated first. "For the sake of law and order it's important that enough officers stay on the job," insisted the police union.

Meanwhile, Dutch hospitals are pleased their workers will be among those to receive the first flu jab, though no one will be forced into it.

In AD, the head of the Netherlands institute for public health, Roel Coutinho, warns this could be a problem since only 25 percent of healthcare workers normally go for an annual flu jab.

"We hope that people will take their professional responsibility seriously," he said.

The Dutch go high-speed at last
After decades of wrangling and setbacks the first high speed service between Amsterdam and Rotterdam gets underway in September and the press have been given a sneak preview.

De Volkskrant waxes lyrical about the experience: "The view from the viaduct is wonderful. Gliding along above the greenhouses the passenger is greeted by the skyline of The Hague in the distance and can even catch a glimpse of the cranes at Hook of Holland."

However, AD is disappointed "the train chugs along at a snail's pace" between Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport and only hits its stride after the next stop.

The price of a ticket – 60 percent more expensive than a regular ticket – also has people grumbling.

De Telegraaf reports this is a determined attempt by Dutch railways to claw back some of the huge sum they paid for the line, following botched negotiations with the government back in 1999.

But there's no dampening the spirits of one person involved: the train driver. De Volkskrant quotes him as saying "When we get the new Italian trains they've ordered, it's going to be even better. The future's looking great."

Psychotherapist wishes neurosis on health minister
Trouw reports that psychotherapist Christa Witlund, better known in Dutch literary circles by her nom de plume Anna Enquist, hopes health minister Ab Klink ends up suffering from a neurosis so that he can experience a dose of therapy for himself.

"I receive letters from Klink telling me that patients have to provide me with their passport and national insurance number. Imagine - someone has finally overcome their fears and insecurities to seek help from a therapist. And the first thing they're asked is 'show me your passport'."

That's not the only thing Dutch psychotherapists are up in arms about.
After only one or two sessions, insurance companies now demand that therapists state what the treatment is going to be and how long it will take.

"In my profession, that's just utter nonsense," said Christa Witlund. "It's impossible to give an exact diagnosis after talking to someone twice. That emerges as you go along."

"Many psychotherapists are giving up their practice. They can no longer cope with the paperwork and they object to their professional confidentiality being violated. The baby is being thrown out with the bathwater, and that's something the minister needs to know."

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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