After over 200 days of government formation talks, the Rutte III cabinet's government agreement is as good as done. The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie reached agreements on the last major issues and the agreement is expected to be presented next week. The new government plans to invest more in education, defense, police and sustainability, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday night.
For the first time ever, Dutch soldiers are pressing charges against their employer. On Saturday five members of the Corps Commandos announced that they are pressing charges against the Ministry of Defense over a fatal accident in which Sander Klap was shot and killed during a training exercise in Ossendrecht last year. "If nothing changes, he died for nothing", one of the five soldiers said to newspaper AD on Tuesday.
Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of Defense will face the hardest parliamentary debate of her career on Tuesday afternoon. The Tweede Kamer will debate with her the conclusions of the Dutch Safety Board's investigation into a mortar grenade exploding during training in Mali last year, killing two Dutch soldiers. With parliamentarians being almost unanamously critical, the question is not only whether Hennis will survive this debate as Defense Minister, but also whether she will still have a position in the new Dutch government.
The Ministry of Defense "falls seriously short" in ensuring the safety of Dutch soldiers deployed to the UN mission in Mali, the Dutch Safety Board concluded in its investigation into an accident in which two Dutch soldiers were killed and another was injured when a mortar grenade exploded during a training exercise last year. Both the safety of the grenade and the medical care were not in order, ANP reports.
A mortar grenade that killed two Dutch soldiers during a training exercise in Mali last year was one of a thousand grenades that were unsafe - something the Ministry of Defense was aware of, Jean Debie, chairman of defense union VBM said to RTL Nieuws. If Defense followed its own safety procedures, 29-year-old Henry Hoving and 24-year-old Kevin Roggeveld would still be alive, Debie said. A third soldier sustained serious injuries.
Last year there were five investigations within the Dutch Armed Forces into possible radicalization of employees, ANP reports based on documents received from Defense at the news wire's request. Three of the investigations concluded that the involved employees were not radicalized. The other two are still ongoing.
The new Dutch government is giving an extra 1.5 billion euros to Defense, sources told the Telegraaf based on the financial plans the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie sent to central planning office CPB. Two thirds of that money is for catching up on overdue maintenance, the rest for investment, according to the newspaper.
That the new government plans to push more money into Defense, comes as no surprise. During the campaigns preceding the parliamentary election in March, all parties except GroenLinks, SP and DENK said they wanted more money to go towards the Dutch armed forces.
A lack of equipment and training has the Netherlands' Corps Commandos in a bad position, RTL Nieuws reports based on a confidential assessment conducted by the Armed Forces. A number of training exercises have been suspended for months due to too little equipment. "The equipment is old and worn and therefore dangerous", the report reads, according to the broadcaster.
The Ministry of Defense is implementing stricter access control procedures for non-Defense personnel who want to enter a Defense barracks. This follows the arrest of a convicted jihadist at Volkel air base earlier this year, ANP reports.
On Tuesday King Willem-Alexander opened the Netherlands' parliamentary year with his traditional Budget Day speech. He talked about the devastation Hurricane Irma left of the Caribbean islands that form part of the Dutch Kingdom, terrorism around the world, the prosecution of those responsible for the MH17 disaster, and making sure that everyone in the Netherlands benefits from the improving economy, among other things.
The Ministry of Defense will be "under siege" from its own staff on Friday. Soldiers will block all entrances and exits of the Ministry's building in a labor action for better working conditions, the military unions announced, ANP reports.
Defense's military and civilian workers have been without a collective bargaining agreement since 2013, according to the news wire. Negotiations for a new agreement stranded in the spring. The unions rejected a final offer by the Ministry, which included a wage increase of 2 percent and money for training.
King Willem-Alexander will visit Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba on Monday to see the aftermath of Hurricane Irma with his own eyes, Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said on Curacao on Sunday afternoon, ANP reports.
Hurricane Irma took at least six lives on Saint-Martin, the French part of the island that also includes Sint Maarten, broadcaster Franceinfo reported on behalf of the French government. Thus far no information is available about victims in the Dutch part of the island, the Telegraaf reports.
Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the islands of Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba, all part of the Dutch Kingdom, at noon on Wednesday (Netherlands time), according to NU.nl. The hurricane is considered a class five hurricane, the fiercest category on the Saffir-Simmpson scale. With wind speeds of 295 kilometers per hour measured, Irma is in the top 5 of fiercest Atlantic hurricanes, RTL Nieuws reports.
The hurricane will hit Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday morning. The authorities on the two Caribbean islands called on residents to seek shelter.
The current government plans to make more money available for teacher salaries, primary school education and Defense in a compromise to solve a conflict about teacher salaries between the VVD and PvdA, Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte confirmed. Though he stressed that there is no deal yet, NU.nl reports.
If go-slow actions at the airports in Eindhoven and Rotterdam this week don't push the Ministry of Defense to come up with a better collective agreement for Koninklijke Marechaussee officers, labor actions at Schiphol airport may be the next step, the Marechaussee unions announced, Het Parool reports.
Travelers departing from the airports in Eindhoven and Schiphol today may face longer lines at the passport checks due to labor actions by the Koninklijke Marechaussee, a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military and is responsible for border protection, including at airports and harbors.
The joint unions of Defense personnel are planning labor actions twice this week. Friday's action may result in longer than usual queues at the airports in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, ANP reports.
On Friday the Koninklijke Marechaussee will perform extra strict and thorough passport checks at these airports. This may cause longer queues and extra inconvenience for passengers. The Koninklijke Marechaussee is a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military and is responsible for border security, including at airports and harbors.
Two Iraqis hit in air strikes while fleeing from Mosul on January 26th, 2015, want to know whether Dutch F-16s were involved. Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld asked for clarification from Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert in a letter sent to NRC on Thursday.
Four Dutch soldiers that form part of the NATO battalion in Lithuania, were sent back to the Netherlands after they were arrested for involvement in a drunken fight, according to newspaper Trouw.
The police raided nine homes and companies across Noord-Brabant on Tuesday as part of a major money laundering investigation. A limousine rental company in Kaatsheuvel was one of the addresses raided. At least two limousines will be seized, a police spokesperson said to NU.nl.
Addresses in Waalwijk, Rijen, Almkerk and Aalst were also raided. About a hundred people took part in this action, including police officers, FIOD officers, and soldiers. A number of sniffer dogs were also used.
Schiphol Airport is getting help from various government services as well as citizens this busy summer period, State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Infrastructure announced on Friday. "We are doing everything to prevent repetition", she said to the Telegraaf, referring to massive crowds, delays and long lines at the airport during the May holidays.
A Dutch military Apache helicopter was deployed to check on a small aircraft from Switzerland on Tuesday morning after the plane sent a hijacking alarm while flying over Noord-Brabant. The Defense helicopter from Gilze-Rijen air base guided the plane into landing at Breda Airport, Omroep Brabant reports.
It turned out to be a false alarm - there was a problem with the plane's radio. "The pilot switched to he wrong frequency", a spokesperson for Gilze-Rijen said to the broadcaster. "There was no radio contact for several minutes, which could mean that the plane was hijacked."