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Government collapses -- dual citizenship law shelved

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Prime Minister Rutte has offered the resignation of his cabinet to the Queen, preparing the country for new elections in September. The proposed restrictions on dual citizenship for Dutch citizens are now on hold. This is great news for Dutch citizens abroad who were at risk of being unable to keep their Dutch citizenship when applying for that of their new home countries.

Dual citizenship law considered "controversial issue"

The 18-month old coalition between the conservative-liberal VVD and the Christian democratic CDA was supported by the far-right PVV. The Netherlands is in danger of breaking the 3% rule imposed by the European Union and the three parties were negotiating new budget cuts. Those talks broke down unexpectedly on Saturday and the PVV revoked its support for the coalition.

New elections will most likely be held on September 12. Until that time, the VVD and CDA will formally remain in power but will no longer take on "controversial issues". It is now clear that both VVD and CDA, as well as most opposition parties, consider the proposed law "controversial" which means it will no longer progress. A May 15 meeting to discuss the proposal has been canceled.

CDA: "A PVV thing"

The main opposition parties have always opposed the restrictive law and in recent days the governing parties seem to have come around as well. CDA spokesperson Mirjam Sterk said in an interview with Dutch newspaperDe Telegraaf about the proposal: "That is a kind of PVV-thing that we've always found difficult".

Eelco Keij, the main organizer of the protests against the law: "Recently, the VVD made clear they were struggling with the proposal, and it was a courageous thing to air those disagreements."

New elections

The elections in September will determine the shape of the new coalition. It seems unlikely that the PVV will be part of a coalition again, which bodes well for those who are in favor of dual citizenship. For more information on how to cast your vote while abroad, contact your local Consulate or Embassy or read more information in Dutch at Kiesraad.nl.

Controversial dual citizenship law before Dutch parliament

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Last Friday the Dutch government sent the contested bill regarding dual nationality to parliament for a vote -– despite concerns expressed by thousands of Dutch people worldwide.

The controversial law would severely restrict the ability for Dutch citizens to hold another citizenship, and would impact many thousands of Dutch-Americans and Dutch nationals worldwide. Earlier reports that the new minister does not consider this bill to be a priority turned out to be incorrect.

Call for action

The action group Nederlander Blijven is calling on all Dutch citizens to contact their representatives in Dutch parliament:

"There are still several phases in parliament that need to be dealt with before the bill can be put up to a vote. During these phases it is of utmost important that each spokesperson of each political party is well informed about the various downsides of this piece of legislation. With enough valid arguments, a majority within parliament may agree to amend the bill and to reverse its strongest restrictions. The actual vote may be up as soon as this June – after which the second branch of parliament will also need to vote on it (probably somewhere later in 2012)."

Eelco Keij, the main organizer against the proposed law, has more information on his website and a list with contact information of Dutch politicians.

http://eelcokeij.com/2012/03/05/urgent-update-no-vi-your-support-needed/
http://www.nederlanderblijven.com

Nationality law proposal to Dutch parliament before Christmas

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Minister Donner expects to present his proposal for modifying the Dutch nationality law to parliament before Christmas.

In October we wrote about Minister Donner's plan to eliminate dual nationality for Dutch citizen. The proposal, which has not yet been officially presented to the Tweede Kamer (the Dutch House of Representatives), will be sent to parliament before the Christmas break. Minister Donner answered this in response to questions by House member Gerard Schouw of the D66 party.

Importance of Dutch expats

The minister estimates that there are about 850,000 Dutch passport holders living abroad, but it is not known how many of them hold dual nationality. The minister "acknowledges the importance of Dutch expats for the Dutch economy and Dutch diplomatic relations".

Position of the Tweede Kamer

The new law, which if it was accepted would have a significant negative effect on Dutch citizens living abroad, is controversial. A majority of parties in the Tweede Kamer has spoken in support of Dutch citizens abroad who could no longer maintain their Dutch nationality when applying for foreign citizenship.

On November 22nd a motion was brought forward to ask the minister to reconsider the aspects of the proposal that would impact Dutch citizens abroad. The motion did not get a majority in the Tweede Kamer though since the VVD did not support it, on technical grounds. Eelco Keij, who initiated the online petition against the proposal, remains optimistic: "This was just a procedural move by the VVD. When it comes to the content, they already publicly stated they are on our side."

The petition by Dutch citizens abroad has received almost 19,000 signatures and significant coverage in the Dutch media. More information in Dutch about the petition can be found on NederlanderBlijven.com.

Netherlands Antilles no more

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Tomorrow, October 10, the Federation of the Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist.

The islands of Sint Maarten and Curaçao, following the political path of Aruba in 1986, will become constituent states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius, will become special municipalities of the Netherlands.

Curaçao and St Maarten will become fully self-governing, except in matters of defense, foreign policy, and judicial and financial affairs, which will remain the responsibility of the Dutch government. There will be specific exceptions for the islands, such as the phasing in of the U.S. Dollar as the official currency come January 2011 instead of the euro, and the islands can take a different standpoint on issues like abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.

Dutch Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife, Princess Máxima, are on Curaçao to attend the ceremonies around the transition.

$14 registration fee for ESTA applications

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that effective September 8, 2010 a fee of $14 will be charged for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications.

An approved ESTA application is required to use the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows visitors from several countries, including the Netherlands, to travel to the United States for up to 90 day without applying for a visa under certain conditions. The ESTA registration does not apply to holders of a U.S. visa and permanent residents (green card holders).

All new registrations or renewals on or after that date will require a $14.00 fee payment by credit or debit card. Existing ESTA registrations remain valid through their expiration date. $4 of the fee goes to administrative costs; $10 will go towards funding the activities of the Corporation for Travel Promotion.

Background

A valid ESTA approval has been required since January 2009 for all Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to travel to the United States but up to now it has been free of charge. The Department of Homeland Security, Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. It collects the same information as the paper I-94W form that VWP travelers fill out en route to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that travelers submit an ESTA application as soon as they begin making travel plans.

More information at the Department of State.

Watching the World Cup final in the USA

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For the first time since 1978 the Dutch soccer team has made it to the finals at the FIFA World Cup. The Dutch have never won the title... will Sunday be different?

The game starts at 2:30 pm EST/11:30 am PT and will be watched by Dutch-American communities throughout the United States. Here is a list of entries as collected on our Facebook page. Many of these are organized by NLBorrels.com and local Dutch clubs.

Most events have limited capacity, so come early, and some bars are for 21 years and older only. The dress code for all events is orange.

West Coast

  • Los Angeles, CA - The Happy Ending in LA (7038 West Sunset Boulevard) Facebook invite In cooperation with the Netherlands Consulate, NLBorrels.com, EUROFRIENDSLA.COM, DBCLA.COM
  • Orange, CA - Danny's Cafe & Billiards, 1096 N. Main St, Orange, CA 92867, 1-714-771-9706 (through Petra)
  • Orange, CA - Dutch in the OC Club is hosting at Danny K's in Orange, CA (great city, great color!) (through Julia)
  • The Holland Soccer Club will be watching the game
  • San Francisco, CA - Civic Center Plaza - http://sanfrancisco.the-netherlands.org/News/News_Flashes/Holland_in_the.... The City of San Francisco is expecting more than 8,000 viewers
  • San Francisco, CA - Kezar Pub, 770 Stanyan St (through Menno)
  • Seattle, WA - Dutch Seattle: http://dutchseattle.ning.com/events/finals-hollandspain-live
  • San Leandro, CA - The Englander Sports Pub & Restaurant, 101 Parrott St (through Kroepoek)

Central US

  • Austin, TX - Fado's at 4th and Lavaca. The place will rock, many many Dutch. (through Dirk)
  • Chicago, IL - Sedgwick's Bar and Grill, 1935 N. Sedgwick, Dutch Club Chicago
  • Detroit, MI - Beverly Hills, MI (Detroit Metro Area). About 30 Dutch people. It's at a private residence. If you're interested contact rvanderputte@gmail.com
  • Grand Rapids, MI - Vander Veen's Dutch store organizes an event at Celebration Cinema, 2121 Celebration Dr. NE #425 Knapp St. & East Beltline
  • Houston, TX - Intercontinental Hotel Houston, Netherlands Texas Business Association
  • Louisville, KY - Molly Malone 933 Baxter Avenue (through Hanane)
  • Scottsdale, AZ - local Dutch Club "The Dutch Connection" will be meeting up at a sports bar called "Versus Sports Grill" on 9030 East Via Linda at 11:30 local time to watch The World Cup. At least 50 Hollanders are expected to come, children more than welcome.
  • Tucson, AZ - Trident Grill, 2033 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson AZ, 520-795-5755 ...Next to Buffalo Exchange on Speedway & Campbell, NW corner. Everyone welcome, under 21 also (through Sybelle)
    • East Coast

      • Atlanta, GA - FADO aka HOLLAND HEINEKEN HOUSE, 273 Buckhead Ave - with Dutch DJ, live music, bitterballen and orange colored building :) (Atlanta Holland Club, NLBorrels.com)
      • Cary, NC - About 30 Dutch people at a private residence. If you're interested contact jvanderham@att.net de Wieken
      • Fairfax, VA - public event in Fairfax, VA: http://www.destinationfairfax.com/worldcup.php Not sure how "orange" this is (through Margareta)
      • Laurel, MD - Maple Lawn "I'm guessing about 10 oranje fans; the rest soccer fanatics, both Spain and Holland supporters; always a good crowd for the WC games so far." (through John)
      • Philadelphia, PA - Fado Irish pub. NAADV and NLBorrels.com - "Huge World Cup party at Fado starting at 10am, Sunday - they will be closing off the entire block - 15th and Locust. It may not be the Museumplein but expect a sea of orange!"
      • Margate, FL - O'Malley's in Margate (Miami/Ft Lauderdale area) organized by the Netherlands Association of South Florida
      • Miami, FL - Crazy Pianos in Coconut Grove (South Miami area) (through Mischa)
      • New York, NY - Tonic Bar Time Square, 48th Street & 7th ave & Mars 2112 Best places to go in the New York area. Superb event organized by NLBorrels.com (read their announcement).
      • Scotch Plains, NJ - Stage House Tavern. This sports bar has a Dutch owner
      • Stamford CT - Irish Pub Tigin, 175 Bedford Street, http://www.tiginirishpub.com (through Nicole)
      • Tallahassee, FL - Finnegan's Wake. Not so much a "Dutch" or "Dutch Fans-only" event, but yours truly is working hard to turn the entire place Orange! (Steven)
      • Washington, DC - James Mackey's Pub (DC Dutch, NLBorrels.com): "Mackey's Pub will open specially for us Sunday at 12:30 pm and show the match LIVE on their many screens all around the place. NL Borrels also replenished the supply of kroketten! Mackey's is at 1823 L Street NW, Washington DC."
      • Winterpark, FL (near Orlando) - Fiddlers Green in Winterpark, Fl courtesy of Club Holland Orlando, usually a large turnout of Expats; Still looking for a place in Cocoa Beach, Fl.(through Arnold)

      Click on 'Read more' to see some pictures of previous soccer watching events in San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.

Dutch assistance in the Gulf of Mexico

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The Dutch government and Dutch businesses are assisting with the cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After the spill began the Dutch offered several oil skimming arms. These sweeping arms, created by Koseq, were shipped to the U.S. Coast Guard in Louisiana by the Dutch counterpart of the Army Corps of Engineers, Rijkswaterstaat. The arms can be attached to ships and have a maximum pumping capacity of 350 m3 (metric tons per hour) to remove oil from the water. Two sets are operating at the moment in the Gulf.

In addition, the State of Louisiana is adopting a sand berm plan created by Dutch knowledge institutions and the dredging industry. Sand berms will be built to prevent the oil reaching the marshes, enlarging the existing islands in front of the coast with an estimated 40 to 45 miles of sand berm.

The Dutch embassy writes today in a press release:

"The Dutch are ready to share [water management] knowledge with those who need it. Such Dutch assistance consists of a wide-ranging network of research institutions, private companies and the public sector. Already Dutch companies are actively involved in helping clean up the damage from the oil spill and in protecting the fragile wetlands along the coast of Louisiana. The Dutch involvement has evolved naturally from the trustworthy relationship between the Netherlands and Louisiana which deepened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Dutch are increasingly becoming an active partner for Americans in water-related crises."

BP has agreed to pay for the implementation of the sand berms (up to $360 million); the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit for the project to begin. The State of Louisiana has mandated a state contractor to implement the plan. The Dutch dredging industry is leading in the world and stands ready to partner with the Americans to execute the plan quickly. The estimate is that adding the dredging capacity of Dutch companies would increase the capacity significantly, thus shortening the time needed to implement the plan.

Mr. Eurlings, Dutch Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, stated, "The Dutch offered assistance to the U.S. as soon as the disaster occurred. We have been working closely on water related issues with the Louisiana region since Hurricane Katrina. It seems no more than natural that now again; we stand together with the people of Louisiana."

C-SPAN visit to Dutch skimmer ship

Election results Washington DC

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Today was election day in the Netherlands, and the Embassy in Washington DC has released the results of Dutch votes in the United States. Four designated four poll workers counted the votes, sent in orange envelopes, at the Embassy.

There were 1,767 valid votes counted (87 blank or invalid); here are the results:

  • VVD 557
  • PvdA 372
  • D66 316
  • GroenLinks 195
  • CDA 109
  • PVV 100
  • ChristenUnie 41
  • SP 35
  • Partij voor de Dieren 25
  • SGP 8
  • Partij voor Mens en Spirit 2
  • Piratenpartij 3
  • Trots op Nederland 3
  • Een NL 1

Worldwide there are 46.396 Dutch citizens who live outside the Netherlands and have registered to vote; about 2,000 of them in the United States.

With 96.5 percent of all votes counted Thursday night, the VVD led the PvdA to become the largest party, with 31 seats.

Update 6/10: vote count has been adjusted after release of final results by the Dutch Embassy.

Joran van der Sloot suspected of murder and extortion

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Joran van der Sloot, the longtime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway on Aruba, was arrested today in Chile on murder charges. Also, in a separate criminal complaint filed today the U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, Alabama accuses Van der Sloot of extortion and wire fraud.

Van der Sloot, a Dutch national, is accused of killing 21-year old Stephany Flores in a hotel on Sunday in Lima, Peru. This was five years to the day after Holloway disappeared. He fled Peru and was arrested today in Chile.

Hours later, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama held a press conference discussing a separate criminal complaint against him. Allegedly, he asked for $250,000 in exchange for the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway. An advance amount of $15,000 had been wired from Alabama to the Netherlands on May 10, 2010.

In February 2008, an undercover video made by reporter Dutch reported Peter R. de Vries was aired on Dutch television purporting to show Van der Sloot smoking marijuana and admitting to being present during Natalee's death. He said he believed she was dead and asked a friend to dump her body in the sea.

Dutch Embassy to receive votes by mail

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The Royal Dutch Embassy announced today that votes for the Dutch parliamentary election can now also be sent to Washington D.C., instead of only to The Hague, the Netherlands.

Votes need to be received by the Dutch Embassy before June 9, 3.00 pm EST.

This is important for Dutch citizens in the United States who plan to participate via mail. Due to the short time between receiving the ballot and the deadline for it to be returned there was a significant chance that votes would not make it to the Netherlands on time.

As we wrote earlier registration is required for voting.

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