Markets watchdog raids dating websites in hunt for fake profiles

The Dutch consumer and markets authority ACM has carried out dawn raids on a number of companies running dating websites as part of a campaign against fake profiles. The users of the dating sites under investigation pay for each message they send, and often they communicate, unknowingly, with fake profiles, the ACM said on Friday. 'Consumers thus pay a lot of money, but do not get what they were expecting: meeting another person,' the ACM said. The ACM said the raids, which took place this week, are part of a larger investigation into the use of fake profiles on dating sites. The markets watchdog said the aim of the investigation is to find out whether consumers have been misled or if other rules have been broken. In addition, these kinds of dating sites are often used by vulnerable consumers, the agency added. The ACM will not say which companies are being investigated or when the probe is likely to be completed. Earlier this month, broadcaster NOS carried out its own research on fake dating site profiles. A reporter who registered without a photograph or further information had 500 emails from prospective dates within a week.  More >

Food inspectors act on water in meat

The Dutch food safety board has given the meat industry until July 10 to come clean about how much water it adds to packs of meat and fish sold in supermarkets, the Volkskrant reported on Friday. European meat firms have been required by law to include 'water' on the ingredients list since December 2014 and add the percentage of water in the total weight of the product. But checks by the Volkskrant newspaper found a number of products on sale in Dutch supermarkets do not meet the rules. For example, a pack of pangasius fish fillets sold by Jumbo are labeled as 78% fish, but do not say how much of their weight is water. The NVWA told the Volkskrant it had found faulty labels in the past but declined to say how many. The body now says it will get tough on food processors who do not comply with the rules in the second half of this year.  More >

Greenpeace invests in fund-raising

Having lost more than 20% of its donors over the past five years, Greenpeace Nederland is spending nearly €5.5m this year on fund-raising, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday. This is 30% more than the environmental organisation's Dutch branch spent on raising money last year, the FD added. Greenpeace had 370,000 donors in 2017, down from more than 465,000 at end-2013.  'This is a trend which started a few years ago,' Joris Thijssen, one of Greenpeace Nederland's two directors, told the paper. Thijssen said there has been a shift away from 'true supporters' who back the same good cause all their lives and towards incidental gifts, often spurred on by developments in the news.  'The way the younger generation donates money - often by means of one-offs such as crowdfunding - is a real challenge for many NGOs,' he said. Greenpeace Nederland had an income of €25.4m in 2017, of which €19m came from donors, a decline of €355,000 over 2016. Income was boosted by a single donation from the Postcodelotterij of €3.2m. Greenpeace is a NGO with offices in over 40 countries. Its international coordinating body is based in Amsterdam and is separate from Greenpeace Nederland.  More >

Dutch urged to revise dual nationality law

Dutch nationals living in Britain and British expats in the Netherlands have urged the Dutch government to make good its pledge to modernise the law on dual nationality. Representatives of the two groups made their pleas to members of parliament's Europe committee on Thursday at a special session on the impact of Brexit. 'We hear a lot about trade and business but not much about citizen's rights,' Hedwig Hegtermans, of The Three Million lobby group told MPs. Dutch nationals who want to remain in Britain are concerned that their children in particular may be hit by the ban on having two passports. For example, the children of Dutch nationals who grow up in the UK will have to pay the very high fees facing foreign students if they want to go to a British university and are not officially British. Sarah Parkes, of the Dutch-based Brexpats Hear our Voice group, said UK nationals will lose their right to free movement throughout Europe, which is essential for some jobs. 'We were dismayed by the referendum result and a lot us did not even have a vote,' she told MPs. Christian Democrat MP Peter Omzigt told the committee he had not realised that Brexit was proving so complicated for residents.  And, ending the session, the committee's chairman Malik Azmani said: 'I thought it was all organised [when it comes do citizens rights]. But it is clearly not.' The new government includes a commitment to reform the laws on dual nationality but as yet, no concrete steps have been taken. A justice ministry spokesman told earlier this week ‘no announcements’ can be made about the contents, shape and time-line for changing dual nationality legislation.  More >

VDL joins 'biggest eye on the sky’ project

VDL ETG Projects, part of the diversified industrial VDL Groep, has been awarded a contract to build the support structure for the main mirror of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) in northern Chile, the Eindhoven-based company said in a statement  late Thursday. The European Southern Observatory will build the world's largest telescope in the Atacama desert at an elevation of over three kilometres. The support structure consists of 798 individual support structures for mirror segments, which together form the telescope's main mirror which has a diameter of over 39 metres. The project will be completed in 2024. The order is worth several tens of millions of euros, the company said. VDL comprises 94 individual companies and is owned by the Van der Leegte family. ESO Director General Xavier Barcons and VDL Groep President and CEO Willem van der Leegte signed the contract for the order on Thursday at the headquarters of the ESO in Garching, near Munich. Van der Leegte said this marked the first time an astronomy-related contract of this size has gone to a Dutch party. The ELT is the same size as a football stadium. The ‘eye’ of the telescope is nearly as large as half a football field and will capture more light than all other existing large, professional optical telescopes combined. The ELT will enable new scientific discoveries related to planets, the composition of nearby galaxies and the deep universe. The design was created in collaboration with the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), with support from the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA). The main mirror with adaptive control system will form the largest-ever telescope for visible-light observations. With 15 member states, the ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far.  More >

Pensioners live longer in their own homes

The percentage of people over the age of 85 who are still living independently at home went up from 65% to 72% between 2012 and 1016, according to research by the Dutch healthcare authority NZa. The government has been actively encouraging people to stay at home since 2013, and the survey results show this is beginning have an effect, the NZa said. In particular, the government has introduced new health checks for admittance to a home. Now, almost half of care home residents have some form of dementia, compared with just 25% in 2012. There are some three million people over the age of 65 living in the Netherlands, but their number is set to grow to 4.5 million - or a quarter of the population - by 2040. The over-65s currently account for almost half of all spending on healthcare, but most of that goes on the small group who live in residential homes. Assets Finance ministry research earlier this month showed that today’s pensioners in the Netherlands have more disposable income than in the past and their assets have increased due to soaring house price. But even excluding home ownership, pensioners have more assets on average than the rest of the population. Dutch pensioners are also well off when compared with other countries. Just 2.6% of Dutch pensioners are said to be poor, compared with 8.2% of households in general.  More >

'Enormous task' to retrain energy workers

The transition from fossil forms of energy to new types such as wind, solar or geothermal requires huge investment, not only in technology but especially in people,'  the government's highest advisory board SER has told parliament. The government plans to phase out coal-fired power plants as part of its strategy to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and 2,700 jobs at five plants are at stake. The pending closure of the Dutch onshore and offshore gas fields will swell the ranks of workers in the fossil-fuel fired energy plants who need retraining for jobs in the sustainable sector. In total, SER says, tens of thousands of jobs are affected. Workers at power plants are well paid and highly specialised, making a move to new jobs in or out of the energy sector difficult. Some of the coal- and gas-fired power plants can be switched over to other forms of electricty generation such as biomass or wood chips. The government's CO2 reduction goals, however, rely heavily on sustainable energy production. 'The energy transition offers opportunities for employment, innovation and a more sustainable climate. But bottlenecks in the larbour market need to be adressed urgently. And this requires cooperation on all levels,'said SER chairman Mariëtte Hamer. However, skills, training schemes and pay-and-conditions agreements differ widely and some workers even face loss of pensions, experts in the field told the Financieele Dagblad in reaction to the SER report on Friday. The technical  installation sector expects some 20,000 job vacancies by 2020, according to its employers organisation Uneto-Vni. It has opened an energy transition desk and claims workers can move easily into new, green jobs in the sector. Uneto-Vni has 5,000 members with combined annual turnover of €13bn and a workforce numbering 120,000.  More >