Tomorrow the Netherlands goes to the polls for a referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. For international readers, here’s more information on what this referendum is, and who’s called for it. For Dutch readers, who know all that already, I just want to get straight into it, as tempting as it is to write pages on why this sort of referendum is neither effective nor democratic. Here are 4 reasons to vote Yes tomorrow.
Onderaan staat een samenvatting van de belangrijkste punten in het Nederlands! Continue reading
I have a confession: After hearing of the Brussels attacks this morning, riding my bike past parliament to the The Hague Central and seeing a dozen Royal Marrechaussee armed with automatic weapons, and hearing that Hoofddorp station near Amsterdam had been shut due to an ‘incident’, I got on to a train. A young Middle Eastern man sat next to me, speaking in Arabic on the phone. He was wearing a thick coat, and had a big square bag between his legs. And for a moment I felt a flash of fear. I thought about the possibility of a bomb being in the bag, and images of Brussels ran through my mind. The moment passed very quickly, and I felt stupid and guilty, not believing that I really had been worried for a minute. But I did feel fear, for a brief moment. Continue reading
After more than a year of promises, David Cameron has finally set a date for a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. After managing to make a deal with the 27 other states, Cameron will campaign for the UK to vote to stay on the 23rd of June. But what exactly does his ‘deal’ with the EU mean? What would happen if the British left? And is this the only threat to the EU? Continue reading
After a truly marathon negotiating session, a deal has finally been reached between the Eurozone leaders and Greece. The deal includes:
– More austerity, mainly in the form of tax rises and pension reform
– The repeal of Syriza’s anti-austerity laws
– Freeing up some of Greece’s ‘closed professions’
– Privatisation of state assets (like the ports and electricity grid)
– These assets will be transferred to a 50 billion euro fund managed by Greece but supervised by the creditors. The funds will be used to support the banks and Greece itself Continue reading
The news has just broken that the European Central Bank will agree later today to end emergency assistance to Greek banks. This, together with yesterday’s news that the EU will not extend the bailout until Greece can hold a referendum on further austerity, means that it looks very likely that Greece is about to crash out of the Euro. Let’s quickly catch up on how the negotiations fell apart, before looking at what the events of today mean, and what could follow.
The situation is still changing fast, and on the evening of the 28th of June the ECB had indeed decided to end additional assistance to Greek banks, and capital controls have been imposed. The description below of what could happen is still relevant., but actual actions taken by the ECB and government may change.
The clock is ticking down to yet another deadline in the eternal negotiations between Greece and its creditors on debt and bailouts. The deadline this time is the 30th of June, when the country owes 1.5 billion euros in debt repayments to the IMF. If they don’t pay, they will have defaulted on a loan, and that could start them on the path to economic collapse and an exit from the Euro and European Union. Continue reading
A few months ago I was studying Arabic in the train when the man next to me asked about my textbook. It turned out he was from the tiny African nation of Eritrea, and he spoke a Sudanese variety of Arabic. After trying out a few words, the conversation turned to how he came to be in the Netherlands. It turned out he had fled the incredibly oppressive regime in Eritrea, and taken an incredible journey through the Sahara desert across Sudan and war torn Libya. In Tripoli he got on a crowded boat to cross the Mediterranean, before landing on a beach in Italy. From there he went overland to the Netherlands, looking for a country that was more open to refugees. Here he managed to gain asylum, and now has a job and is learning Dutch.
300 people just like him drowned this week in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.