RNW Press Review, Thursday 29 May 2008
Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.29 May 2008
Rising price of diesel fuel
Today's AD has a report on the rising price of diesel fuel. For many years, diesel was much cheaper than petrol; the difference being offset by a higher road tax for diesel-powered cars.
However, the price difference has been halved in just six months, and the government has announced that it will increase the excise duty on diesel by three cents as of 1 July.
As a result sales of diesel-powered cars have begun to decrease from a constant 28 percent in 2006 and 2007 to 26 percent this year. A spokesperson for the Shell oil company says "diesel is still cheaper due to a different VAT and excise duty structure, but the question is whether it will stay that way".
The Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy has published a report which shows that higher fuel prices will lead to fewer tailbacks. The institute predicts a 12 percent reduction until 2020. Researchers investigated the effects of a 20-cent price increase and concluded that the higher price had a strong impact on the recreational use of cars.
However, Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings said that fewer tailbacks would not mean that measures like pay-as-you-drive were no longer necessary.
A ministry spokesperson emphasised that pay-as-you-drive would be introduced to ensure that motorists pay "a fair price."
De Volkskrant writes about a Dutch proposal for amendments to the new EU Emission Trade System which is to take effect in 2012. Under the rules of the new ETS, companies have to pay for emitting certain quantities of carbon dioxide.
The Dutch government wants to pay extra compensation to power-intensive companies like the Corus steel mills to prevent such companies for leaving for countries outside the European Union.
The plan includes a proposal to allow companies covered by the Emission Trade System to compensate an excess of CO2 emissions by planting trees in developing countries.
The proposal is in line with Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven's pledge to pay compensation for high power prices to a consortium of eight companies including Corus, Akzo Nobel and DSM.
The environmental organisation Greenpeace has fiercely criticised the Dutch proposal, saying it would remove any incentive for these companies to search for cleaner sources of power.
The organisation rejected the idea to allow the companies to compensate for emissions by planting trees in developing countries.
"Planting trees sounds good, but does not work in practice, because adequate supervision has proved impossible".
The European Commission has rejected the Dutch proposal, saying it could lead to a substantial reduction in the price of emission rights.
Also in de Volkskrant, Mayor Jan Lonink of the southwestern town of Terneuzen says the Dutch policy of tolerating the sale of cannabis in so-called coffee shops is a failure.
"You can only tolerate something when it is small or temporary. But this is so big, so systematic and so long lasting. We lose our credibility as a society".
He made his remarks in connection with recent developments at Checkpoint, a mega coffee shop visited by an average 2,900 visitors a day, many of them from neighbouring Belgium and France.
Last week, police seized 160 kilogrammes of marijuana in raids on the coffee shop and 13 storage locations. At present, Dutch rules allow coffee shops to have 500 grams of marijuana on the premises.
Lonink says that with nearly 5,000 customers a day at the weekend, Checkpoint must have a stock of nearly 25 kilograms, "which is only possible if the coffee shop has ties with organised crime".
Lonink supports the existence of coffee shops but argues that the current policy ignores the reality of drug tourism in border regions. He argues for experiments with regulated marijuana cultivation under government supervision to eliminate the role played by organised crime.
"But the cabinet's is only interested in avoiding diplomatic incidents".
Today's De Telegraaf features a picture of what looks like a head sticking out of a solar panel, but actually is a student at the Delft Technical University sitting at the helm of a solar-powered boat taking part in this year's edition of the Frisian Solar Challenge boat race.
The boat is more than six meters long, has a 60-centimetre draught and a maximum speed of 30 kilometres an hour.
More than 50 Dutch and foreign teams will take part in this year's edition of the Frisian Solar Challenge. The 200-kilometre race, which will start on 23 June in the Frisian capital Leeuwarden, follows the course of the classic Eleven Cities Tour skating marathon.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]