Anglophile Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte 'hates Brexit from every angle'

Dutch GDP rises three years in a row, Q1 growth hit 0.4%

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has told the BBC that as an Anglophile, 'I hate Brexit from every angle.' Rutte was speaking on the fringes of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, at which Brexit is one of the hot topics. 'It is crucially important we know what Britain wants from Brexit,' Rutte said. 'I hope we'll come to some form of continued [UK] membership or relationship with the internal market. I absolutely believe the UK will be hit in the economy and the pound very hard.' Britain has been one of the Netherlands' chief allies within the EU and Rutte has been keen to build up a new network. 'If people talk about the French-German axis, then I think "what about the French-Dutch axis,' he told Dutch news agency ANP.  'I want to help shape Europe and you need alliances for that.' In the past few weeks, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourgh have been approaching various other EU blocs, including the three Baltic states, Scandinavia and newcomers to the EU such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Asked if like EU president Donald Tusk, he dreamt of turning back the clock on Brexit, Rutte said: 'We all share that dream'.  More >

Refugee resettlement scheme overhauled

Dutch GDP rises three years in a row, Q1 growth hit 0.4% The financial package given to refugees who voluntarily leave the Netherlands is to be overhauled, junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff has decided. Currently refugees are given a sum of money to help them settle when they return home, but Dijkhoff now wants them to provide receipts before the money is handed over, the Telegraaf said on Friday. The money must be spend on 'income guaranteeing activities' such as setting up a micro company or a training scheme, but housing may also still be covered, the paper said. Figures on the website for the International Organization for Migration, a UN body which administers the scheme, show adults will also be eligible for a lower payment of up to €1,800, rather than €2,250 at present. At the same time, the minister wants to increase the amount payable per child from €1,000 to €2,800 to help fund their education in their country of origin. The total figure per adult and child includes a €300 cash payment. However, a spokesman for the ministry told the Telegraaf that the new figures are only proposals and have not yet been confirmed. Last year Dijkhoff scrapped a number of countries from the list where payments are applicable after it emerged that people were claiming to be refugees to access the funding. So far 712 people have made a claim on the system this year, the paper said.  More >

Food fight in Groningen pensioner complex

Dutch GDP rises three years in a row, Q1 growth hit 0.4% A group of pensioners in a sheltered housing project in Groningen face being taken to court because they are refusing to eat the meals provided in the complex. Instead the pensioners have started ordering takeaways from a company which supplies 'beef with real gravy', the Volkskrant reported on Thursday, much to the anger of the centre managers. The row over the catering goes back several months, when the centre's own kitchens were closed and meals were shipped in from an outside caterer. Then the complaints started, Jaap Pronk, 88, told the paper. He and 20 others decided to order in their food from another company and stopped paying towards the collective meal provision. Now the centre's management, who declined to speak to the Volkskrant, are taking the pensioners to court, arguing they are breaking the terms of their lease. Boss Pronk says the contracts make no such claim and give residents free rein to chose their own meal providers. 'We are no longer boss over our own mouths,' he said. 'They have not got a leg to stand on.' Junior health minister Martijn van Rijn has since become embroiled in the row and says the company would be going too far to take the pensioners to court. Both sides in the dispute need to come up with a settlement, he said: 'They need to get back round the table and keep a cool head.'  More >

Fewer children in Nl are vaccinated

Dutch GDP rises three years in a row, Q1 growth hit 0.4% The number of babies and children in the Netherlands being given the standard childhood vaccinations has fallen by 0.5% for the third year in a row, health minister Edith Schippers has told MPs. Schippers said she has commissioned the public health institute RIVM to investigate the cause of the decline. The drop in the vaccination rate means the risk of an outbreak of measles in the Netherlands has increased, the RIVM says. The World Health Organisation says a vaccination rate of 95% is needed to eradicate measles and the Netherlands dipped under that figure last year. The number of 13-year-old girls being vaccinated against the HPV virus which can cause cervical cancer has also plummeted from 61% to 53%. The RIVM says this may be due to reports that some girls developed extreme fatigue after the injection. No link has so far been established, the RIVM says. Schippers has also asked the RIVM to investigate the 'best way to remove unfounded fears about vaccinations and their side effects'.  More >

European court tears up bankruptcy deal

Dutch GDP rises three years in a row, Q1 growth hit 0.4% The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled in favour of four daycare workers sacked in a pre-packed bankruptcy deal. The case was brought by the FNV trade union representing the four who lost their jobs when daycare group Estro went bust in 2014 and restarted immediately as Smallsteps. In total, 1,000 of the 3,800 members of staff lost their jobs. A pre-pack deal allows companies to restructure and prepare a restart as part of the bankruptcy process but has been condemned for leaving staff and suppliers in the lurch. Unions say it is often used by companies as a way to force through a reorganisation. The court, which had been asked to rule on the situation by a lower Dutch court, said that workers involved in a pre-pack bankruptcy should keep the same rights as in a normal takeover. In the pre-pack set-up they often end up with worse pay and conditions and only a small financial settlement if made redundant. Claim The court ruling means all Estro staff are officially employed by Smallsteps because 'European law takes precedence' labour law professor Evert Verhulp told news agency ANP. 'However, to claim back pay, they should have made it clear that they wanted to continue in their jobs. That does apply to the four who went to court. The others will be able to apply for a golden handshake but it is unclear if Smallsteps will be able to pay.' Other companies which have used the pre-pack bankruptcy construction include McGregor, prawn processor Heiploeg, travel agency Neckermann, lingerie retailer Marlies Dekker and the Free Record Shop. 'This ruling means that the pre-pack is no longer an attractive way to reorganise and get rid of staff and secondary benefits cheaply,' FNV deputy chairman Kitty Jong said in a statement. 'Up to today, workers had no rights if a company went bust.'  More >