VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks agree to talk further on new cabinet

VVD, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks agree to talk further on new cabinet

Four parties from across the political spectrum have decided to hold further talks on forming a new government in the Netherlands. The ruling right-wing Liberal VVD, the Liberal democratic party D66, the Christian Democrats and left-wing greens GroenLinks will talk next week about the options, the party leaders said on Thursday. The four party leaders held joint exploratory talks with Edith Schippers, who is leading the coalition negotiations, on Thursday morning. Prime minister Mark Rutte said afterwards that the talks had gone well and that he is prepared to talk further to the three other parties. However, he said, there are wide policy differences between them and that all the party leaders acknowledge this is the case. Climate ‘We are going to hold talks to see if these major differences can be bridged,’ said GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver. GroenLinks was the biggest net gainer in the March 15 general election, adding 10 more MPs to its stable. In particular, climate change, distribution of income and refugee policy are likely to be contentious issues, Klaver said. While D66 and GroenLinks take a similar position on the environment and on refugees and immigration, the CDA and VVD want a tougher immigration policy and say being in the Netherlands without proper papers should be considered a crime.  More >

Dutch cities fly flags at half mast

Dutch cities fly flags half mast after London terror attack Several Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, have lowered the flags on council buildings to half mast in solidarity with the people of London following Wednesday’s terrorist attack. Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Facebook that the Netherlands is linked to Britain as a friend and neighbour and is prepared to give support where necessary. ‘The values that Westminister represents are stronger than hate,’ he said. ‘We will continue to fight side by side with the British against terrorism.’ Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has also written to London’s mayor Sadiq Khan expressing his condolences for the attack, in which three people died and some 20 were injured. ‘We deeply respect the “keep calm and carry on” mentality that gives – and has always given – the people of London so much strength,’ Aboutaleb said in his letter. Vlaggen op Stopera halfstok na aanslag Londen https://t.co/7DES8gSy3f pic.twitter.com/kRV8BSUuL0 — AT5 (@AT5) March 23, 2017 Our thoughts are with the victims and relatives of the attack in #London. Flag at #TheHague City Hall at half-mast. pic.twitter.com/LPmbAgB2Ck — City of The Hague (@CityOfTheHague) March 23, 2017   More >

New approach needed for child poverty

10 Dutch jihadi suspects on trial in absentia in Rotterdam Some 60% of children in the Netherlands who officially live in poverty have at least one parent with a job, an influential government advisory group said on Thursday. This means that the families often do not benefit from special provisions aimed at the very poorest in society, even though they have trouble making ends meet, the Social and Economic Council (SER) said. Between 8% and 12% of children in the Netherlands are said to live in poverty, depending on the definition. As 60% of these children have working parents, the approach to helping them needs to change, SER said in a recommendation to the new government. For example, local authorities should appoint a specific official to try to quantify the problem and to improve the often complicated forms which need to be filled in to apply for help. At the same time, poverty would appear to be structural, and there has been no reduction in the number of poor children despite a string of initiatives, SER said. Definition The number of children growing up in long-term poverty has gone up 7% to 125,000 national statistics office CBS said in February. Most of them are living in one-parent families or in families which rely on welfare benefits. The CBS considers a single person to be poor if they have an income of below €1,030 a month for at least four years. The figure for a couple with two children is €1,930. The government’s socio-economic policy unit SCP said last year that in 2007, 850,000 people lived below the poverty line but by 2013 that had increased to 1.25 million, out of a population of 17 million. The SCP defines poverty as having less than enough money to provide for basic living needs and to participate in society – this puts at around €1,000 a month for a single person.  More >

Next week set to be sunny and warm

Next week set to be sunny and warm, especially in the south Spring will really set in next week with temperatures up to 19 degrees in places, weather forecasters said on Thursday. This weekend there will be sunny spells but it won’t be warmer than 13 degrees because of the chilly northeast wind. On Monday, however, the wind direction will change to the south west, bringing higher temperatures on Tuesday. Thursday is set to be the warmest day of the week and it could reach up to 20 degrees in southern parts of Limburg, weather website Buienradar said. The KNMI weather bureau is also optimistic about the forecast for next week. It sees sunny spells and temperatures of up to 16 degrees. By next weekend, the chances of rain will increase and the temperatures will drop again, the KNMI said.   More >

10 Dutch jihadis on trial in absentia

10 Dutch jihadi suspects on trial in absentia in Rotterdam Dutch detectives are investigating more than 200 Dutch jihadis who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, public prosecutor Ferry van Veghel told a court in Rotterdam on Thursday. The aim is to ensure they can be jailed as soon as they return to the Netherlands, Van Veghel said at a pro-forma hearing in the case of 10 jihadi suspects. The 200 investigations currently underway are time-consuming and intensive to deal with because of the difficulty in collecting evidence, Van Veghel is quoted as saying by broadcaster RTL. Nor is it possible to collect physical evidence because the men are all abroad. The 10 facing charges at the Rotterdam court range in age from 18 to 29 and come from all over the country, including Arnhem, Almere, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Zoetermeer. Their number includes Dutch Muslim convert Victor Droste. Last year, four jihadis were jailed for up to six years in absentia, in what the department sees as an important precedent.  More >