The government is pushing another 13 billion euros into supporting entrepreneurs who are facing financial ruin due to the coronavirus crisis. The current package of emergency measures, which was set to expire on June 1, will be extended by three months, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Wednesday.
While the government prepares a new round of financial support measures, the near-term prospects for the Dutch economy are looking increasingly grim.
On Friday, Ministers Erik Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate and Carola Schouten of Agriculture presented how they plan to reduce CO2 and nitrogen emissions. One goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by the end of this year, compared to 1990, and thereby comply with a Dutch Supreme Court ruling in a case brought by sustainability foundation Urgenda.
The Ministry of Health is planning to purchase 500 ventilators from a group of students at TU Delft who spent the last three weeks working toward its development, broadcaster NOS reports. If the last round of testing is successfully completed, the production of the ventilator, called AIRone, is expected to begin at a manufacturing facility on the TU Delft campus as soon as Thursday.
Supermarkets in the Netherlands are being called to take measures to ensure that everyone can get their shopping done during the Covid-19 crisis. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs asked that they reserve an hour for elderly customers every day. Actor Thomas Acda started a Twitter action through which healthcare workers in Amsterdam can place their grocery orders and pick them up after their shift.
The ruling Dutch Cabinet said it would expand a program to provide relief to employers who have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The program concerns businesses in crisis that want to temporarily reduce their salaried workers' contracted hours and adjust their pay accordingly. The scheme currently provides government funding to cover 75 percent of the lost wages, paid directly to the employee, with the employer covering the remainder.
In the country's first national address by a prime minister in over 40 years, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte laid out three possible scenarios that affect how the coronavirus pandemic will impact the Netherlands, pledged his support for workers and all business owners, and asked that the country unite to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. The preference, he said, is a scenario where the country spreads out the rate of infection as much as possible, and he emphasized that the country must take action together to prevent two more-dangerous scenarios from occurring.
The coronavirus Covid-19 and the national measures taken to fight its further spread is wreaking havoc in the hospitality and recreation industries, and among the around 3 million people in the Netherlands who work on flexible contracts or as freelancers - many of which work in hospitality and recreation. Quick measures are needed to make sure these workers don't sink, according to experts.
Stringent measures taken to battle the spread of coronavirus Covid-19 are affecting all aspects of the Netherlands. Most court cases and parliamentary debates have been canceled. Community service has been suspended. And the Netherlands is no longer taking in asylum seekers. Freelancers suddenly unable to go to work are also facing problems.
In 2014, top officials warned then Minister Lodewijk Asscher and State Secretary Erik Wiebes that the Tax Authority's hunt for fraud was going too far and leaving thousands of families in financial difficulties. But instead of intervening, they ignored the problem, according to Follow The Money's study of confidential documents, RTL Nieuws reports.
The growing severity of coronavirus in the Netherlands is continuing to rattle investors, and taking a toll on the country's businesses. By the end of trading on Friday, the AEX Index at Euronext Amsterdam closed 3.9 percent lower than a day earlier, and 15.6 percent down from the record high of 629.23 set on Valentine's Day.
Members of the Dutch cabinet met with representatives of a nonprofit organization that pushed the government down a path towards urgent and immediate greenhouse gas reductions. The meeting followed a landmark ruling in December by the Dutch Supreme Court over greenhouse gas emissions in a case brought by climate organization Urgenda.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs ignored signals and reports that there were many problems with Centrum Veilig Wonen (CVW) - the company responsible for reinforcing homes in Groningen against fracking earthquakes - for years. The then National Coordinator for Groningen Hans Alders warned the Ministry that the company was not complying with agreements, and that Groningen residents were the victims of this, in the summer of 2017.
Thirteen of the 30 major energy suppliers in the Netherlands have major debts, Consumentenbond concluded based on an analysis of their annual reports. The consumers' association therefore wants Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs to better protect consumers against the consequences of an energy supplier going bankrupt, NU.nl reports.
In August last year, gas extraction company NAM threatened to stop extracting gas in Groningen prematurely if the liability for damages caused by gas extraction in the province is not shifted away from the company, RTV Noord reports based on a secret report on a meeting between NAM director Thijs Jurgens, officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and representatives of the National Coordinator for Groningen.
Coalition parties CDA and D66 are angry with VVD Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs because he revealed information from the King's Budget Day speech and the government's budget a day before Budget Day. Prime Minister Mark Rutte received three requests from coalition partners to reprimand Wiebes, AD reports.
The Dutch government wants to halt gas extraction in Groningen much earlier than originally planned. Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate now thinks that gas extraction in the earthquake-ridden province can be stopped by mid-2022, instead of in 2030, NOS reports.
The temporary committee for mining damage in Groningen, TCMG, paid out a total of over 80 million euros in damage claims to Groningen residents since March last year. Over 17 thousand damage claims haven't yet been processed, and more claims continue to come in. Last week the committee received 462 new damage claims, the TCMG announced, NOS reports.
Left-wing opposition parties GroenLinks and PvdA are demanding some changes to the Climate Agreement before they will support it in the Senate. "If you think that we are applauding, then you are wrong", PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said during the first parliamentary debate on the Agreement on Wednesday, NOS reports. "If there are no concrete solutions, you can forget our support."
A total of 127 damage reports were received after a fracking earthquake in Groningen on Sunday morning, the temporary committee that handles mining damage in Groningen TCMG said. Six of the reports were of acutely dangerous damage. According to the committee, it is difficult to say how much of the reported damage is the direct result of the earthquake, NOS reports.
The Dutch government wants to reduce the energy costs for citizens and let the industry pay more for the Netherlands' climate plans, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a response to the Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL and central planning office CPB's calculations of the climate agreement. This will involve less energy taxes on citizens, and a CO2 tax on companies, NOS reports
The pupils who organized a massive protest march in The Hague last week met with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate on Tuesday. They are not satisfied with the results of the talk, and will therefore continue with protests for more to be done against climate change, the organization Youth for Climate announced on Twitter.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte called a climate protest by thousands of school kids in The Hague on Thursday "fantastic", but added that they can not demand more far-reaching measures from the cabinet. The Netherlands is already doing a lot for the climate, compared to other European countries, according to the Prime Minister. "Guys, what more do you want?" he said, NOS reports.
An agreement was signed at the United Nations climate summit in Katowice, Poland on Saturday. The Dutch delegation and government are satisfied with the result, NU.nl reports.