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Residency rule to become Dutch remains five years as senators vote no to change

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The residency requirement to become Dutch will not go up from five to seven years after senators on Tuesday rejected the draft legislation.

The plan, backed by the lower house in June, was rejected in the upper house by a narrow majority after the two senators for 50Plus voted against it. 50Plus had included a proposal to increase the residency requirement to 10 years in its election manifesto.

However, during last Tuesday’s debate on the issue, 50plus senator Jan Nagel said he was unconvinced of the value of increasing the time someone should live in the Netherlands before they can become Dutch, throwing the bill’s passage into doubt.

In the week running up to today’s vote, Dutch expats had also lobbied hard to persuade Nagel to reject the bill and over 600 had contacted him directly ahead of Tuesday’s key show of hands.

Although the increase was included in the previous coalition agreement, it is not supported by the Labour party, who voted against. The anti-immigration PVV, the right-wing VVD, the Christian Democrats and fundamentalist Protestant group SGP voted in favour of the change, taking 36 of the 75 senate votes. (DutchNews)


Plans for new government policy may be finalised early next week

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – After months of talks, the final touches are being put to the four-party coalition agreement, which could be finished as early as Monday, the AD has reported.

Once the agreement between the two Liberal parties (VVD and D66) and two Christian parties (CDA and ChristenUnie) has been finalised, it will be presented to the four parliamentary parties for approval.

Parliament will then debate the plans and after that, prime minister Mark Rutte will assume the role of ‘formateur‘ and begin the process of recruiting ministers. Insiders say the new cabinet is likely to be presented to the king and the public in the week of October 23.

The Netherlands went to the polls on March 15 and this is the longest formation period ever. Asset taxes Meanwhile, broadcaster NOS suggests the new cabinet may also be planning to cut asset taxes by increasing the tax-free limit from €25,000 to €30,000.

Assets include savings, shares, art, second homes and other assets. The cut would benefit people with more than €25,000 in assets by some €60 a year, NOS said. The parties have also agreed to cut the effective tax rate itself, with is currently around 4%, well above actual returns booked on savings.

The new cabinet is also planning to reform the income tax system, NOS said at the weekend. (DutchNews)


Second year Dutch students also more likely to live at home

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two years after the abolition of student grants in the Netherlands, a trend is emerging – students are now more likely to live at home.

Earlier this year, figures showed that more first year students opt not to live out and that trend is now clear among second year students, according to figures from student housing expertise centre Kences.

Of the students starting a bachelor’s degree in 2016, 75% still lived with their parents, compared with 60% before the abolition of grants. Now those students are in their second year, the figures show 63% still live at home, compared with 50% of those who started university or college before grants were abolished.

In total, just under half of the Dutch student body still live with their parents. Students do receive a free public transport card to commute to classes and an increasing number of students are now traveling to and from university on a daily basis.

‘Living at home longer because of the student loan system appears to be a trend. Students would appear to be reluctant to borrow money to pay for a room,’ said Kences director Ardin Mourik.

‘It would be a real shame if living away from home became something for the elite, not to mention the pressure on public transport.’


Erwin Olaf takes new portraits of Dutch queen and princesses

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch state information service RVD has published a new series of portraits of queen Maxima and her three daughters by Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.

The portraits were taken on April 18 this year, to mark king Willem-Alexander’s 50th birthday. It is not the first time Olaf, who is one of the Netherlands most acclaimed contemporary photographers and famous for his highly theatrical compositions, has taken pictures of the Dutch royal family.

In 2013, he produced the portrait of the king for the new two-euro coin and also photographed Maxima for a formal portrait in 2011. Meanwhile, broadcaster NOS reports that the official portraits of the king are not proving popular and only 55 have been sold since the three works were unveiled in 2013.

It is customary for portraits of the monarch to hand in government buildings and court rooms. By contrast, the famous official portrait of queen Beatrix by Carla Rodenberg sold at least 660 times.

The biggest seller is a photograph by Rineke Dijkstra, which has been ordered 26 times, NOS said. The total procedure to produce the three portraits cost €450,000, including a €75,000 payment to each artist. (DutchNews)


New cabinet will get tough on road hogs, delay pension reform: media

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The new cabinet plans to get tough on road hogs and other anti-social drivers, the Telegraaf said on Friday, in the latest of a string of leaks about the next coalition’s plans.

The fines for serial and serious traffic offences will rise but will be cut for less serious crimes, sources have told the paper. In addition, the new coalition plans to spend €2bn over the next three years on more roads and on public transport and waterways plus €100m improving the network of cycle lanes, the paper said.

The emphasis will be on removing traffic jam black spots. The parties are also working on some form of road pricing for freight traffic, a move opposed by current (VVD) transport minister Melanie Schultz, the Telegraaf reported.


According to the Financieele Dagblad, the new cabinet will not tackle pension reform immediately but will give unions and employers more time to reach agreement on a major shake-up which is acceptable to both sides.

There is general consensus the current system, consistently rated among the best in the world, is not sustainable in the longer term, particularly given the rise in the self-employed with no private pension.

However, the four partners will come up with their own suggestions for labour market reform, the paper said.


The AD says the new coalition – a combination of the VVD, Christian Democrats, Liberal democratic D66 and ChristenUnie – will have a total of 25 ministers and junior ministers.

There will be 16 ministers and nine junior ministers who are not members of the cabinet. This would be the biggest of the three cabinets that prime minister Mark Rutte will have had.

The new appointments are likely to include ministers for climate and energy, immigration and environment, the paper said. (DutchNews)


Former VVD minister jailed for two months for tax fraud

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Former VVD MP and junior minister Robin Linschoten has been jailed for five months, three suspended, for tax fraud. The sentence is tougher than the 200 hours community service and six months suspended jail term called for by the public prosecution department.

The court said Linschoten, who was junior social affairs minister from 1994 to 1996, had defrauded the tax office of €100,000 by not declaring enough in corporate taxes for his companies between 2010 and 2012.

Linschoten has admitted being careless but said he had not acted deliberately. He also blamed his accountant. Linschoten told the Financieele Dagblad in August he is now as good as bankrupt.

Neither Linschoten or his lawyer were in court to hear the sentence, broadcaster NOS said. (DutchNews)


25% rise in people doing two jobs, money a main motive

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Some 600,000 people in the Netherlands have two jobs, mainly because they can’t make ends meet with one or because they want to do something else as well, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday.

The number of dual job holders has risen by 25% over the past 10 years and they now account for one in 14 of the Dutch working population, the CBS said.

Artists, sports men and women, and other people involved in the cultural and recreation sector are most likely to do two jobs while builders and people working in finance services are least likely to do so.

Women and youngsters are more likely than older men to have more than one employer. Most of those with two formal jobs say they need the money to survive. But even with two jobs, they only manage to drum up an average of 29 hours of work a week, the CBS said.

Freelancers who also have a part-time job account for around 40% of the total. (DutchNews)


KLM delays at Schiphol check in after ‘technical issues’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – KLM passengers have been advised of technical issues in checking in at Schiphol airport, according to tweets by the airline. ANP reported that the airline was apparently experiencing a ‘major failure’ in systems on Thursday.

It told a customer via Twitter at around 12pm that it was ‘still experiencing technical issues’ and could not say when these would be resolved.

Airports around the world have been experiencing delays after what the BBC describes as a ‘software issue’. Problems have been reported at Gatwick, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Melbourne airports, among others.

Gatwick airport in the UK blamed an issue with the Amadeus Altéa passenger management system, which has been resolved.

‘Amadeus confirms that during the morning, we experienced a network issue that caused disruption to some of our systems,’ the business reportedly told the BBC ‘Amadeus technical teams took immediate action to identify the cause of the issue and restore services as quickly as possible. That action is ongoing.’ (DutchNews)


Boy, 14, held in connection with parents’ death on Friesian farm

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 14-year-old boy from Friesland has been arrested in connection with the death of his parents, according to Dutch police. He was taken in late on Tuesday evening, after a couple was found dead in their home in the Frisian village of Katlijk.

The man of 63 and his 62-year-old wife were discovered that morning by the neighbours who shared their farmhouse, and according to the NOS broadcaster, their youngest son is the only suspect.

Police have interviewed the other two sons but have not released details of what they believe happened or how the couple died, although they have said a crime is suspected.

The son is due in court today. After the discovery of the bodies, police had evacuated and searched the area, and investigations are going on in the farmhouse. Local mayor Tjeerd van der Zwan told the Leeuwarder Courant in a statement that the family was not known to social services.

‘Katlijk is a small community of about 600 people, where everyone is involved. I don’t have to tell you that this kind of event has a deep impact on people…Our sympathies go out to their relations.’ (DutchNews)


Plans to make becoming Dutch tougher in doubt: media

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Plans by the outgoing government to increase the residency requirement for becoming Dutch from five to seven years are in doubt, according to the Telegraaf.

The plan was passed in the lower house of parliament before the election but Labour senators now plan to vote against the idea, the paper says. Although the increase was including in the previous coalition agreement, it is not supported by the Labour party.

During Tuesday’s debate on the increase in the senate, 50plus senator Jan Nagel said he had not yet decided which way to to vote. His support for the bill is crucial if the increase is to become law.

Nagel said on Tuesday he was unconvinced of the value of increasing the time someone should live in the Netherlands before they can become Dutch. The senate will vote on the plan next week. (DutchNews)

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