Prime minister survives no confidence vote in dividend tax debate

The Labour party joined forces with the right wing populists PVV and FvD to support a motion of no confidence in prime minister Mark Rutte during Tuesday evening's debate on the government's revised tax plans. The motion, proposed by anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders, did not attract as many votes in terms of numbers as previous no-confidence votes, but the support of the Labour party is a blow to the prime minister, the NRC said in its analysis. 'The marriage between the VVD and PvdA ended at the last election but the friendship between VVD prime minister Mark Rutte and his former deputy Lodewijk Asscher is now on the rocks,' the paper said. Neither GroenLinks or 50Plus supported the motion of no confidence but the pro-animal PvdD and the Socialists did. Tuesday night's debate concentrated on the government's decision to scrap plans to abolish the tax on dividends and re-divide the 'savings' to industry. During the debate, Asscher repeatedly called on Rutte to apologise for the way he had tried to scrap the tax, which would have mainly benefited foreign firms. The fact that GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver refused to support the motion leaves a door open for his party to play the role of 'constructive opposition' if the coalition loses its majority in the senate next year, the NRC pointed out. Opinion polls predict heavy losses for the coalition in March's vote for the 12 provincial governments. However, that door is now closed to the Labour party, given that Asscher has ended the friendship, the NRC said.  More >

The Netherlands slips on best economy list

The Netherlands has slipped out of the top five in the latest edition of the World Economic Forum's ranking of the world's most competitive economies. The Netherlands has gone down from fourth to sixth place after being overtaken by Germany and Japan, the latest edition of the rankings show. The US remains top of the list, followed by Singapore, Germany and Switzerland. The ranking is based on 12 different 'pillars' ranging from the make up of the workforce to the way companies are embracing technological advances. The Netherlands, the WEF says, performs particularly well on institutions , especially when it comes to checks and balances (including judicial independence, freedom of the press and government openness), protection of property rights, and ethics and transparency. In addition, the economy is an open one, which 'is marked by forgiving cultural attitudes towards entrepreneurial failure, a great willingness to delegate authority, entrepreneurs who are willing to embrace disruptive ideas, and fast-growing innovative companies'. The Netherlands also tops the sub-ranking for macro-economic stability but comes no higher than 19th for ICT adoption and 20th for the health of its workforce.  More >

Amsterdam Dance Event kicks off

Amsterdam Dance Event, billed as the biggest dance festival in the world, kicks of in the Dutch capital on Wednesday with a programme of more than 450 events at 140 locations across the city. In total, some 400,000 people are expected to take part in the five day event in some form, officials say. 'Everybody who works in the music world meets up during ADE,' Dutch dj Sam Feldt told news website The festival also includes a conference and discussion platform covering every aspect of the music industry, so that delegates have the chance to network, exchange expertise and keep on top of all the latest developments in the electronic music field. This year's special focus is on 30 years of Dutch electronic music culture. Research published on Wednesday by ING bank and radio station 538 shows that the richest djs in the world are earning an average of €571,000 a week. The researchers looked at the five richest djs according to a ranking compiled by Forbes magazine. Some 80% of their income comes from live shows, the rest from recording rights. Number three on the list of highest earners is Dutch DJ Tiësto who earned €33m last year, Forbes said in August.   More >

Dutch not prepared for flooding: Red Cross

Despite the fact that water level in the rivers is extremely low given the ongoing drought, the Red Cross is warning that the Dutch are insufficiently prepared for flooding, the AD reported on Wednesday. The Red Cross bases its conclusion on a poll among 762 people which showed 76% do not have the recommended emergency kit at home should floods occur. One in three said they have the requisite three litres of water per person per day in house but one in 10 said they have nothing at all. The Netherlands is vulnerable to both sea flooding, due to high tides and wind, as well river flooding caused by very heavy rain and melt water from the Alps. Some 25% of the country is below sea level. An emergency kit should contain at least 3 litres of water per person, non-perishable food, matches in a watertight container, candles, a battery operated radio and a torch, the AD said. Insurance company Neerlandse has seen an increase of ‘thousands’ in the number of people who take out an insurance against flood damage, especially among those who live near dykes and rivers. Other insurance companies are also going to offer flood insurance, the paper said. Extreme weather The UN panel on climate change IPCC issued a stark warning to the world to cap global warming to 1.5 degrees or face more extreme weather conditions earlier this month. According to the report, Western Europe, including the Netherlands, will be confronted with extremely high water levels in the event of a rise of two degrees of global temperatures. And a recent report by the Delta Commission said sea level could go up by one to two metres if global warming reaches two degrees.  More >

Dutch and Chinese firms sign battery deal

Dutch company Lithium Works has signed a deal to build a massive battery factory in China together with Chinese firm Zheijiang Jiashan. The factory will cover a 60 hectare site on the Yangtze delta and will cost €1.6bn to set up, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday. The two companies will each contribute around 25% of the cost, with the rest coming from banks, the Volkskrant said. Lithium Works, which currently has two small factories, one in Hengelo and one in China, says the new plant should be operational in 2021. Company chairman Kees Koolen told the paper that he is pleased to work with the Chinese because the deal and the permits could be agreed in 100 days. 'In the Netherlands, it takes me eight years,' he said. The signing ceremony took place during the visit to the Netherlands by Chinese premier Li Keqiang which ended on Tuesday afternoon. During the visit Li told reporters that if companies are convinced China has stolen their intellectual property that they should make a formal complaint to him, via employers organisation VNO-NCW. Employers leader Hans de Boer said the commitment by the Chinese to do 'all they can' to protect intellectual property is the most important aspect of Li's visit to the Netherlands, the Financieele Dagblad reported. Trade According to national statistics office CBS, trade between the two countries is increasing. The Netherlands exported goods worth €11bn to China last year and imported €36bn worth of Chinese products. Other deals signed during the visit include an agreement that KLM will maintain 138 aircraft motors belonging to Chinese airline Xaimen, a joint venture between ING and the Bank of Beijing and a deal between Shell and Chinese oil and gas giant CNCP. In total, the deals agreed are worth up to €8bn, said.  More >

Firms fear rise in post-Brexit red tape

While 80% of Dutch firms expect Brexit to have an impact, half of them have no idea what to expect and have taken no action to deal with it, according to new research by the Dutch chambers of trade KvK. 'It would appear that companies are taking a 'wait and see' stance because of all the uncertainties,' chairwoman Claudia Zuiderwijk said. 'But whether there is a deal or no deal, doing business with Britain is going to change considerably.' One third of the company bosses polled said they expected that Brexit would damage their business prospects and seven in 10 are worried about increasing red tape. Other issues that concern people are levies and taxes (54%), import duties (51%), future differences in laws and regulations (51%), and delays at the border (49%), the survey showed. Last month, research by the foreign affairs ministry suggested just one in five Dutch firms which do business with Britain were ready for Brexit. Some 77,000 companies in the Netherlands do business with the UK, particularly those involved in the chemicals and food sectors. Earlier this year, the national statistics agency CBS said trade with the UK would appear to be stagnating because of Brexit. Research by last month also showed that 40% of British nationals living in the Netherlands had done nothing to regulate their post Brexit stay.  More >

Stressed students offered puppy love

The University of Amsterdam is offering over-stressed students the chance to cuddle up with puppies to relieve exam stress next week, it has confirmed to It will have a puppy room available with 750 seats for two afternoons in its library, saying that research demonstrates that a quarter hour of puppy love can lower blood levels of cortisol, and therefore reduce stress during exam week. The puppies are being introduced to the students, too, apparently as a vital part of their socialisation training. The idea, reportedly, comes from British universities including Bristol and Nottingham. The puppies are provided by agency Catvertise and are costing the university some €400. A total of 160 students will be able to benefit and are being asked to sign up on social media. According to the sign up page, the event is already sold out.  More >

Government researchers mobility scooters

The government has asked the road safety research foundation SWOV to look into the safety of mobility scooters, after reports that they have dangerous braking systems, the AD reported on Tuesday. The researchers will look at the technology behind the scooters as well as the rules for use, such as maximum speeds and which part of the road they should stick to, the paper said. Television consumers show Kassa reported earlier this week that one reason so many mobility scooter users are killed may be due to the braking system. The technology is similar to that used by the electric wagons used to transport children, known as the Stint. Stints have been banned from the Dutch roads pending safety checks. In total 38 mobility scooter users were killed in 2016 and 1,600 were taken to hospital after accidents. Last year political party 50Plus called for the introduction of a sort of driver’s license for mobility scooter users, but the idea was dismissed by the government pending research into the accident rate.  More >