RNW Press Review Thursday 10 September 2009

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

No nukes! Labour Party calls on US to pick up their old missiles
This morning's de Volkskrant opens with "no nuclear weapons in the Netherlands". The headline is remarkable because officially there are no nuclear weapons in the Netherlands, although the paper tells us "it's an open secret that nuclear weapons are stored at the Volkel air base in North Brabant".

The left-wing paper reports that the Labour Party, part of the governing coalition, has called on the United States to remove all of the nukes on Dutch soil and quotes Labour MP Martijn van Dam, “the Netherlands has to tell US President Barack Obama to come and get them".

The populist de Telegraaf also covers the story but Mr van Dam's tone is slightly different: "America, pick them up tomorrow," demands the MP.


Banks introduce code of conduct to regulate bonuses
The Dutch Banking Federation (NVB) presented a code of conduct regulating bonuses on Wednesday and all of today's papers cover the news. AD headlines "banks ban big bonuses," de Volkskrant writes "banks introduce caps on bonuses" and NRC Handelsblad reports "bankers’ bonuses restricted to a year's salary".

All this sounds like very good news; the banks appear to be finally cleaning their houses - though it's a task that could be likened to cleaning the Augean stables - and taking some responsibility for the economic chaos wrought by overweening ambition and greed.


However, there is also criticism of the NVB code of conduct: according to the Protestant Trouw "the code of conduct is packed full of exceptions," adding, "finance minister enthusiastic but MPs wanted a deal with a bit more muscle".

De Telegraaf reports, "financial experts lukewarm over NVB plan". The populist paper writes, “financial institutions are clearly demonstrating their goodwill and the code of conduct appears to be substantial but in reality, it's a bit like putting a plaster on a broken leg".

Cabinet plan to tackle drug tourists criticised
The cabinet's plan to introduce a pass system that would prevent foreigners visiting coffee shops - marijuana cafés - leaked out yesterday and AD reports that the Cannabis and Coffee Shop Association (BCD) is furious. Michael Veling of the BCD fumes, "banning foreigners is discrimination, pure and simple".


The government's national marijuana pass will only be available to Dutch nationals over the age of 18 and restricts the number of coffee shop visits to one per day and a maximum purchase of three grams.


The government move comes in response to an increase in problems caused by drug tourists in towns and cities along the Dutch borders. Labour Party MP Lea Bouwmeester tells AD, "there are far too many problems now". However, Mr Veling says “the pass system will force drug tourists to buy on the streets and that will cause huge problems".


Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers has enthusiastically welcomed the pass plan but notes that the European Court could rule against the proposal. Coffee shop owners in the southern border city are most definitely not in favour of the plan and a spokesperson for the local BCD says, "Drug tourists spend 140 million euros in Maastricht annually. That equals 1900 full-time jobs, it's economic madness to ban them".

Health minister to relax smoking ban
There’s also news for other smokers in today's papers. Trouw reports that Health Minister Ab Klink is proposing changing the anti-smoking law in order to make it applicable to owner-operator establishments again. Two separate courts recently ruled that the anti-smoking law does not apply to owner-operator bars and cafés because the law is designed to protect employees; if there are no employees, then the law does not apply.


De Volkskrant writes that Minister Klink has also proposed allowing smoking if bars and cafés install ventilation systems capable of removing all of the cigarette smoke and producing clean air.

The lawyer representing smoking cafés says he is waiting to see the proposal in black-and-white, "a great deal will depend on the legal formulation of the regulations. And as far as the ventilation system goes; that depends on the clean air norm that the minister is demanding. It simply isn't possible to make the air 100 percent clean anywhere".

Dutch men's soccer team waltz through World Cup qualifiers
The Dutch men's football team made it through to the World Cup in South Africa with a one-nil victory over Scotland last night and AD has a photo of jubilant, sweaty blokes in orange kit congratulating themselves and each other. The paper writes that the Netherlands also set a record as the first team in more than 25 years to make it through the qualifying rounds without losing or drawing a single match.

Trouw notes that the Dutch women's team failed to make it through to the final of the European women's football championship that kicks off this evening in Helsinki. Sunday’s match was a thriller and some two million people in the Netherlands watched as England finally defeated the Dutch women in extra time by two goals to one.

Trouw writes that this was the most successful Dutch women's team ever but that success was despite the Dutch Football Association, not thanks to it. The paper say the football association is “a bastion of conservatism and had refused to support women players”. So, congratulations to the men and commiserations to the women.