Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 25 November 2009

25th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Several thousands of spy phones sold
Free newspaper De Pers reported on the several thousands of ‘spy phones’ sold this year.

“Women use them to keep an eye on their husbands, and bosses to keep an eye on their employees. Usually illegally.”

An estimated 1,500 sets of espionage software for mobile phones will be sold this year, which does not include sales via international websites.

An employee at the Spy Web Shop in Utrecht said: "You can hand in the phone of the person you want to spy on and the shop will install the software for you, but in most cases the aspiring spy buys a phone at the Spy Web Shop, usually a Nokia. … Your boss will tell you: ‘Here you go, a company phone, for you’. One text message from your own phone to the phone of your employer and the two phones will be linked. The activation text message is invisible to the person who is being spied upon.”

Spy City in Amsterdam sells spy software at prices between EUR 500 and 1,500.

De Pers wrote that owner Koos Neijens knows spying is usually illegal. “On principle, it is not allowed to eavesdrop on somebody. We tell our customers so”.

However, this knowledge does not seem to keep anybody from spying on their employer or loved ones.

Dick Offringa of the PSS Spy Shop said: “The products we offer are good for sales; ethics is for the customer to worry about.”

Neelie Kroes to stay on as European commissioner
Neelie Kroes has been nominated as the Dutch commissioner on the European Commission dominates Dutch papers Wednesday.

Many feared the cabinet would choose a different candidate because of party political considerations so it came as good news that one of the EU’s most effective commissioners will stay on.

However, the bad news was that she would probably be appointed European Commissioner for Information and Computer technology, a much lighter post than her current job as competition commissioner. She may also be appointed deputy chair, at present an honorary title.

Dutch papers were generally enthusiastic about the news, with de Volkskrant talking about “Enthusiasm about second term Neelie Kroes”, Trouw wrote “Kroes gets Telecom in Brussels, De Telegraaf said “Kroes happy she can stay” and AD reported “Neelie Kroes stays in European Commission”.

De Telegraaf wrote her own party, the conservative VVD was – obviously - happy about her nomination: “Balkenende has made the best possible choice”, but parliament as a whole reacted positively.

Labour called it a “good choice”, the Democrat party D66 said it was “fantastic” and even declared Euro sceptic Geert Wilders approved, calling Neelie Kroes “a really good one”.

According to De Telegraaf, her nomination ended an extended tug-of-war between Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and European Commission Chair José Manuel Barroso.

The prime minister reportedly wanted Barroso to name a portfolio so he could nominate a candidate from his own Christian Democratic party without running the risk of being fobbed off with a minor portfolio. However, the commission chair insisted Balkenende first name his candidate and reportedly hinted that a renewed nomination of Kroes would the best guarantee for a major portfolio.

In an editorial, de Volkskrant wrote Kroes’ nomination is “good news for the Netherlands, but also for the European Union. Like no other, she symbolises the primacy of politics over economics.

Even before the financial crisis, she had established her reputation as a watchdog against cartel formation. She imposed a total of more than EUR 10 billion in fines and stood firm against economic giants like Microsoft”.  

However, de Volkskrant added she was unlikely to be re-appointed competition commissioner: “Success is not assured for Kroes.

‘Nickel-plated Neelie’ felt completely at home in her role as the strict cop of the cartel police. In her new job she will be much more of a travelling salesperson having to hawk her wares to 27 member states. This will make a serious demand on her diplomatic flexibility”.

ANWB threatens to withdraw support for pay-as-you-drive scheme
According to De Telegraaf, the whole scheme is now “hanging by a thread” and “Support for pay-as-you-drive-scheme wavering” because the ANWB (the Dutch Automobile Association) is threatening to withdraw its support if Traffic Minister Camiel Eurlings does not provide clarity about the price motorists will have to pay for driving during the rush hour.

The minister has said that most motorists will be better off as a result of the scheme, but the ANWB said this is not the case as long as the rush hour rates are not known.

The organisation’s director Guido van Woerkom said: “We demand clarity, if not, we will be unable to support the minister’s plans”.

Conservative VVD MP Charlie Aptroot, also known as pro-motorist, said: “Support for the scheme is now a subject for discussion” and, slightly menacingly: “I think a whole lot more is about to happen”.

de Volkskrant quoted ANWB Director Van Woerkom as saying: “As long as we don’t know the rush hour rates, we cannot judge the possible consequences for motorists”, and “There are many questions among our members about how the rush hour rates will affect them”.

“There has been a ten-year warming-up period before the bill was submitted. We will take our time to properly review it,” said an ANWB spokesperson. 

Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica

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