Dutch news in brief, Thursday 29 October 2009

29th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Will Balkenende stay or go?
There appears to be widespread speculation in government circles whether Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will leave for Brussels to become the first president of the European Union.

Sources in the government said there is a 50-percent chance he will leave.

According to De Telegraaf, Finance Minister and Labour party leader Wouter Bos would like Balkenende to stay because his departure would most likely lead to general elections. In the polls, the PvdA is at a historic low of 14 seats compared to the 33 seats it has in parliament today.

Insiders saie in a meeting immediately after his return from a trip to Japan, his two deputy prime ministers Bos and Christian Union leader André Rouvoet put substantial pressure on the prime minister to stay on.

AD reports the prime minister labelled any speculation on his possible departure as “nonsense” and “a party game for the media”.

However, a recent survey shows 70 percent of those interviewed don’t believe him, and, according to AD, many of the prime minister’s fellow Christian Democrats would not mind if he left.

A job in Brussels would provide a welcome exit strategy for a prime minister facing increasing criticism from within his own party regarding his performance.

The parliamentary inquiry into the decision-making process regarding the Dutch participation in the war in Iraq is to present its findings in January, with local elections just around the corner. The inquiry is almost certain to find something potentially damaging to the PM and his party

The EU member states are expected to decide who gets the top job in a couple of weeks.

Computerised customs checks at Schiphol Airport
de Volkskrant writes both Schiphol and the justice ministry have confirmed that as of 2010, passengers leaving the country will no longer have to present their passport to a border police officer.

In a two-year trial involving all Europeans holding biometric passports, a computer will check the identity of the passport holder on the basis of facial recognition.

Since 2006, the Netherlands has been issuing passports equipped with a chip including personal data, distinguishing characteristics such as facial features and, since September 2009, also fingerprints.

In an automated identity check, the passenger sticks their passport in a machine which reads out the biometrical data from the chip and takes a photograph of the passport holder. The computer then checks whether the photograph matches the data on the chip.

The justice ministry said the pilot of project No-Q aims to substantially reduce queues at border police check points and primarily intends to find out exactly how fast the new system really is.

In a separate development, the government will introduce another pilot named Advanced Passenger Information at the end of this year.

All airlines serving Schiphol Airport will have to submit the personal data of their passengers to the authorities prior to take off.

The required passenger data includes name, address, age and destination. The data will be used by investigative services to draw up a passenger risk profile.

Autumn in Netherlands
de Volkskrant publishes an aerial photograph of National Park de Hoge Veluwe in the east of the country. The photograph shows a stand of green conifers surrounded by deciduous trees in full autumn splendour. The paper writes autumn is here despite the rising temperature.

“Nature knows, and whoever visits de Hoge Veluwe these days will see it’s true. The leaves of deciduous trees are losing their pigment and the forest slowly takes on the russet colours of autumn. However, as of Friday, the wind will pick up and the canopy of dense foliage will soon be gone. Afterwards, only the conifers, as the strangers of the forest, will provide some colour.”

Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica

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