Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 24 December 2008

24th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

Drivers licences for 17-year-olds by 2010
Several papers report that Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings will inform the lower house Wednesday that as of 2010, 17-year-olds will be able to get a drivers licence.

According to AD, young people will be able to start driving lessons when they reach 16-and-a-half. However, 17-year-olds will only be allowed to drive - assuming they have managed to pass the test - if an adult who has had a licence for at least 10 years is also in the vehicle.

 The scheme has been in operation in Germany for some time and has proven very successful in reducing accidents; young Germans who have driven under supervision are responsible for 30 percent fewer accidents than those who have not.

 Minister Eurlings says the scheme will improve traffic safety as the new drivers are not immediately "thrown in the deep end" but are given extra time to become more experienced.

VVD seeks enquiry into support for Iraq war
"Senate increases pressure on PM on Iraq issue" is the front-page story in the Protestant Trouw. AD writes "closer to an investigation on support for Iraq war” while de Volkskrant's front-page headline reads "significant chance of Iraq enquiry".

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Christian Democrats have managed to block all efforts to secure a parliamentary enquiry into the government's support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  

In a surprise move on Tuesday, senators from the conservative VVD joined their left-wing colleagues and voted in favour of calling on the Prime Minister to "finally clear the mist surrounding the decision to support the Iraq war".

One Labour senator told the left-wing daily: "if we don't get satisfactory answers this time round then we want an enquiry".

A VVD senator echoed his colleague from across the floor, saying: "this whole issue is enveloped in fog and unless we get clear answers, we'll vote for an enquiry".

Violent incidents on buses on the rise
"Violence on buses is increasing" is one of front-page stories in this morning's AD. A report by Connexxion, the Netherlands' largest bus company, says the number of violent incidents on local and regional buses is increasing rapidly.

A spokesperson for the company said: "The number of incidents is increasing, as is the use of weapons".

According to Amsterdam bus driver Peter van Eerden who collects reports of violent incidents for the FNV trades union, there have been 235 incidents serious enough to warrant a mention in the newspapers this year as against 220 in 2007.

Van Eerden said the increase in the number of violent incidents cannot just be blamed on badly behaved youths.

“Privatisation is also to blame. We're on a very strict schedule but the amount of traffic on the roads has increased dramatically. This means the buses come late or they don't come at all. It's not the driver's fault but the passengers take it out on us."

Abdication speculation grows as royal renovations near completion
According to AD, speculation about Queen Beatrix's abdication plans is growing now that renovations to the interior of the Royal Palaces in Amsterdam and Castle Drakensteyn have been completed.

AD reports it is well known that Queen Beatrix plans to move to Castle Drakensteyn after she abdicates and now that the renovations are finished, monarchists are getting nervous as nothing stands between the Queen and retirement.

The paper asks two experts on the House of Orange for their opinions about the renovations and what they mean for the abdication plan.

According to the paper, they answered in chorus: "It could be significant but then again, perhaps not."

Labour party: new Dutch citizens should give up old nationality
The Labour party published its integration policy paper on Tuesday, and NRC Handelsblad and its sister paper NRC.next distil the essence of Labour's integration policy down to three short sentences: the problems within the Netherlands' multicultural society can best be tackled by strictly enforcing laws and regulations; Dutch norms and values should be used to confront people who think otherwise; and desirable but harmless behaviour should be tolerated.

 The policy paper, which will be debated by party members in January, is designed as a guide for MPs, local politicians and party members when dealing with integration issues. It's a simple three-step guide: ban; confront; tolerate.

The authors also say that double nationality is "damaging and irritating" for people, and they call for an end to foreign interference in the lives of new Dutch citizens.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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