Expatica news

Dutch news in brief – 23 April

Dutch slip down list of top welfare states

The Netherlands is no longer in the top five of the list of European Union welfare states. In 1992, Dutch social security payments were the second highest in the EU (behind Sweden), but by 2001 the nation had slipped to sixth. New figures from the EU statistics office Eurostat indicated on Friday that Dutch social security payments had fallen from 31.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 27.6 percent.  Sweden remains on top at 31.3 percent. The EU average was 27.5 percent in 2001. The Dutch fall was attributed to relatively small rises in social security payments.

Teenage boy accused of girl’s attempted murder

A 13-year-old Maastricht boy was due to appear in the southern Dutch city’s court on Friday accused of the attempted murder of a five-year-old girl. The teenager is suspected of assaulting the Maastricht girl — who is being treated in the Maastricht Academic Hospital — on Tuesday. The girl’s parents have lodged a police complaint alleging the boy threatened the girl with a knife and almost strangled her to death. But the boy’s parents claim the girl’s injuries were the result of an accident while playing. The boy lives in a trailer park in Maastricht.

Crackdown planned for ‘free states’

City councils are set to take tougher action and better co-operate with the national government to combat “free states” such as trailer parks, Hells Angels clubhouses and dangerous city streets. Such areas are frequently suspected of paying minimal tax or engaging in criminal acts, but police and tax officials are intimidated from taking any action. Maastricht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht councils reached an agreement with Interior Minister Johan Remkes on Thursday to take tougher action against these areas. If needed, the national government will be called in to assist, news agency Novum reported.

Minister rejects freight rail fire safety concerns

Transport Minister Karla Peijs has rejected claims that fire safety was not taken into account for the construction of the Betuwelijn rail freight route. Newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Friday that “a disaster with dangerous substances” was not taken into account. The paper based its report on a confidential report from the Dutch Fire Brigade and Disaster Combat Institute (NIBRA). The Betuwelijn, which is designed to make the transport of freight safer, is expected to be completed in 2007.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news