Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 15 July 2009

15th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Is the Netherlands a submissive or valued partner of US?
Smiling faces all round: most papers published photos of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende visiting US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office in Washington Wednesday.

However, the meeting has got a rather mixed reception. Nrc.next says it was “an exercise in absolute submissiveness”, describing Balkenende as “hot under the collar and sweating slightly” while Obama was “composed and stately”.

The AD also stresses the negative, saying that the prime minister promised to consider taking Guantánamo prisoners after all. “MPs furious: This is an expensive cup of tea for the Netherlands”, reads its headline. “The Netherlands has consistently called for Guantánamo Bay to be closed. A solution must be found, no matter how difficult,” the PM is quoted as saying.

“We’re staying in Afghanistan”, screams De Telegraaf, covering what is likely to be a deeply unpopular decision by the PM.

Despite repeating that the leading role of Dutch troops in Uruzgan will end in summer 2010, Balkenende apparently told Obama: “The Netherlands will not turn its back on Afghanistan”. The paper brushes aside Obama’s praise of the Dutch Afghan mission.

Balkenende with his youthful looks and glasses, is often caricatured as resembling the fictional character Harry Potter. Under the photo of the Washington meeting, De Telegraaf runs a fake film advert which reads: “Harry Potter, Dark secrets revealed”.

Meanwhile, Trouw covers a victory gained by Balkenende. At the meeting,  Obama invited the Netherlands to take part in the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in September. The paper says this means the Netherlands is now firmly established as a semi-permanent member of the influential group of major economic powers.

Should Queen’s speech be changed?
Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos’ idea about changing the speech from the throne has come in for some stick, reports de Volkskrant.

Bos says the monarch’s speech delivered at the opening of the parliamentary year should become a “visionary tale about what’s going on in society”. At the moment, it simply goes through the government’s programme for the coming year.

Former prime minister Dries van Agt believes the idea is “dangerous and risky” and that the sovereign “will run into serious problems”.

A former director of the Government Information Service asked: “Imagine if the [right-wing] Freedom Party becomes a major coalition partner. Would the Queen then have to say: ‘Next year, all Muslims will have to leave the country’?”

Meanwhile, the paper reports Queen Beatrix is believed to favour Bos’ idea.

More use legal insurance to fight dismissal
The AD says more people are making use of their legal insurance policies to fight redundancy. A leading insurance firm says there has been a 40-percent rise, or many thousands of people, in cases for its legal department already this year. The company director said most cases have to do with problems linked to labour law.

The cost of some insurance policies is likely to be raised in 2010 because of the increased demand for employment-related legal services. However, it’s not all bad news. With the increase in workload, some insurance firms now have to employ more staff.

Protect the bees
“No pollination without bees” reports Trouw which said beekeepers are increasingly often seeing the collapse of whole colonies of honeybees. Of the 200 types of wild bees in the Netherlands, 100 are on the list of endangered species.

“Stop bee deaths” is the most popular of the 146 Dutch petitions on the internet.

Within a month, it has garnered 10,000 signatures. Its most important message is that certain insecticides should be banned. An expert tells the paper that these damage the bees’ nervous system and “makes them more susceptible to disease”.

Eels off hook and menu
Both de Telegraaf and Trouw report eels are off the hook – at least for three months of the year.

The European Union has rejected a Dutch rescue plan for the fish, which involved transporting 157 tonnes of silver eel to the sea so that they could spawn in the Atlantic.

Experts say eel populations are more threatened than at first thought and the EU is insisting on a ban on eel fishing from 1 September to 1 December.

Fisheries minister Gerda Verburg is making EUR 700,000 available for tackling possible redundancies in the inland fishing sector.

Neither paper deals with the possible fallout for Dutch consumers as eel is a traditionally popular dish in the Netherlands.

Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica

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