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[Video] Armed robbery takes place at art fair in Maastricht

28 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht (TEFAF) has been evacuated and two suspects have been arrested by police after four men staged a robbery on Tuesday morning. 

Armed robbery at TEFAF Maastricht

Police are investigating an armed robbery at TEFAF, after four men broke into the event at the MECC in Maastricht. One man was seen carrying a weapon while another smashed a sledgehammer into a display case. Dutch media reports that the display case contained diamonds belonging to a London jeweller. 

The MECC was evacuated by local authorities on Tuesday morning, but the event has now reopened to the public.

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Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association…

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Protests are causing chaos on roads across the Netherlands as Dutch farmers take a stand against the government’s nitrogen policy. Major traffic jams are being reported across the country as farmers make their way to The Hague

Traffic jams and delays across the Netherlands

A number of demonstrations took place throughout the day on Monday, as farmers blocked highways with tractors and staged a protest outside the home of Christianne van der Wal, the Dutch Minister for Nature and Nitrogen. 

Today, the chaos continues, as hundreds of farmers establish roadblocks and set fire to bales of hay on Dutch roads. At midday, the Rijkswaterstaat has already reported huge delays on major highways across the Netherlands – here’s a quick run down of what we know so far.

Protests on the A12 and A7

The emergency services have reported that lanes are closed on the A12 after farmers set fire to hay bales on Tuesday morning. There are traffic jams in both directions between Gouda and Woerden. Further disruption was caused nearby after a truck broke down near Nieuwerburg.

Similarly, considerable delays were also reported on the A7 this morning after hay bales were burned in Wijdewormer, hindering visibility and affecting traffic in both directions.

Delays for drivers on the A2, A15, A28, and A31

Traffic jams have been reported on the A2 between Beesd and Breukelen, on the A15 in Andelst, and on the A31 between Harlingen and Leeuwarden.

Traffic has come to a standstill on the A28 in Lankhorst, in the direction of Zwolle. Protests have established a roadblock with tractors, and traffic is being redirected via the A6, A7, and N50.

Congestion on the A10 (Amsterdam Ring)

In addition to the disruption caused by protests, over 25 kilometres of traffic jams have been reported on the A10 as a result of four accidents on the inner ring road around Amsterdam. Drivers should expect significant delays, especially at the Amstel interchange.

Dutch Prime Minister criticises farmers’ “dangerous” protests 

Unsurprisingly, drivers – especially those required to commute to work or drive for their jobs – have expressed their frustration about the delays faced as a result of numerous protests over the past week. 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has also spoken out against the protests. “It is not acceptable in this country to allow dangerous situations or drivers to be intimidated,” Rutte said in a statement on Tuesday morning. He went on to defend the environmental goals and policies that have been set out by the Dutch government.

Want to know more about why Dutch farmers are protesting? Click here to read all about the government’s nitrogen policy and the Dutch farmers’ protests.

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28 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

At least one person has died and several more have been injured after a rare tornado hit the Dutch city of Zierikzee on Monday afternoon. 

73-year-old killed after tornado hits Dutch city

While much of the Netherlands was hit by heavy rain and thunderstorms on Monday, the southern province of Zeeland saw a more extreme type of weather roll in on Monday afternoon. At around 2.30pm on June 27, a tornado with wind speeds of between 179 and 218 kilometres an hour travelled across Schouwen-Duiveland, a municipality around 50 kilometres south of Rotterdam

The tornado caused extensive damage to hundreds of homes in the local area, ripping roofs from a number of houses and several tiles from the roof of a local church. Police report that a 73-year-old woman was fatally injured after being struck on the head by a roof tile. A further eight people suffered minor injuries, while one was rushed to the local hospital for treatment. 

Eyewitnesses said the tornado managed to wreak havoc in a matter of minutes, and local mayor Jack van der Hoek added that emergency services are working hard to repair all the damage. “This afternoon Zierikzee was unexpectedly hit by a very strong gust of wind… on behalf of the municipal council, my condolences go out in to everyone affected by this,” he told the press on Monday.

Between one and three tornadoes in the Netherlands every year

While tornadoes are something you’re more likely to associate with the United States than northern Europe, this certainly isn’t the Netherlands’ first – or biggest – tornado. Typically, between one and three mini tornadoes hit the Netherlands every year. 

One of the Netherlands’ deadliest tornadoes occurred back in 1967, leaving seven dead and dozens injured. Another particularly dangerous one hit Ameland in August 1992, and a few years ago, in August 2019, a weak tornado caused minimal damage in Amsterdam.

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Interest rates for new mortgages are continuing to rise but remortgaging your home can still be worthwhile under certain circumstances, says FVB de Boer financial consultant José de Boer.

In many cases, you may be too late, and this is definitely the case if you took out a mortgage in the past five years or so, when rates were lower. A 100 percent mortgage fixed for 10 years will now cost you at least 3,2 percent, and that is double the rate we were seeing at the start of the year. Nevertheless, there are still some circumstances in which it might be worth to remortgage your home.

When should you consider remortgaging?If you currently pay a higher rate and you still have a few years to go before the fixed period runs out, it may still be cost-effective to switch to a new mortgage before interest rates rise even more. After all, if your current rate is up for renewal in a couple of years, theoretically, rates will be even higher by then.

You might also consider making the change if you are coming up to the age of 57 and want to fix your interest rate for a longer period or extend your mortgage. When you turn 57, banks want to know everything about your retirement income when deciding whether or not to give you a new loan – and when I say everything, I really do mean everything. So, if you can avoid the third degree by doing it now, it makes sense.

Need to make renovations in your home?It is also still worth remortgaging if you want to release some of the capital tied up in your house to carry out renovations – something which more and more people have been doing since the number of homes on the market shrank.

If you have the financial flexibility and want more space, for example, now might be a good time to add an extension to your home, to give you a home office or a bigger kitchen. It could also be worth investing in increasing your home’s energy efficiency, by installing double glazing or even a hybrid heat pump, as the government is encouraging us to do. In fact, the majority of new mortgages being taken out at the moment are remortgages to fund renovations or extensions.

You may also be thinking about buying a holiday home, and again, if you can afford it, then it might be smart to do so sooner rather than later. Many people have a lot of capital tied up in their property and it still makes financial sense to release some of it, if you have a major purchase in mind.

The right time to remortgageOf course, one of the problems of rising interest rates is that no one has a clue what is going to happen. The war in Ukraine, EU fiscal strategy and soaring inflation will all have an impact on interest rate developments in the coming months. Economists think rates will continue to rise, albeit more slowly, but concrete forecasts are few and far between.

If you are a gambler, you can always wait and see what happens – and who knows, waiting a little longer could pay off. But unless you are paying a high rate of interest now, or want to remortgage with a specific purpose in mind, it’s best to sit tight. You may have missed the boat this time, but another one will probably come along sooner than later.

Thinking about remortgaging your property? The team at FVB de Boer are on hand to provide expert advice and answer any questions you might have.

Earlier this month, Schiphol confirmed that thousands of flights would be cancelled over the summer in order to limit crowds as the airport continues to face severe staff shortages. Since the news broke, various major airlines have revealed how Schiphol’s decision will affect their flights. 

Got a holiday booked for over the summer? Here’s what we know so far about flight cancellations and customer rights for travellers in July and August. 

KLM to cancel thousands of bookings

As the largest airline operating out of Schiphol Airport, KLM has been required to cancel thousands of flights in order to meet the targets set by airport management. KLM is having to reduce passenger numbers by 7.000 for the month of July.

In spite of this, last week the airline announced that it was only scrapping a limited number of flights this summer. KLM has yet to confirm exactly how many flights will be cancelled, but has already halted ticket sales for the summer period in order to limit passenger numbers. 

Got flights booked with KLM? The airline says that all travellers affected by the cancellations will be offered an “acceptable alternative” which will likely involve them being offered seats on other flights at around the same time as their original booking: “Travellers affected by this will be personally informed as soon as possible.”

Transavia cancels 240 flights in July and August

As part of the KLM Group, Transavia is also a key airline operating thousands of flights out of Schiphol Airport. Transavia is cancelling a total of 240 flights between July 7 and August 14, affecting around 13.000 bookings – but the airline has said more cancellations are possible.

70 percent of travellers have been rebooked onto other flights – either departing from Schiphol or from another Dutch airport – but the remaining 30 percent have had their booking cancelled. Those affected by the cancellations should already have been notified of the changes to their travel plans. 

While Transavia appears to be one of the few airlines to have already provided details about how the chaos at Schiphol is affecting their passengers, the Dutch Consumers’ Association has accused the airline of violating European passenger rights. They argue that travellers haven’t been offered the choice between a refund or booking a different flight of their choice.

easyJet protects flights to holiday destinations in southern Europe

easyJet has also confirmed that flights will be cancelled across Europe – including at Schiphol Airport – as a result of staff shortages. While a spokesperson for the airline has said the company is hoping to protect flights to holiday destinations from cancellations, it is not yet known how many or which flights will be affected.

The spokesperson explained that the majority of cancellations would take place on routes where easyJet operates multiple flights per day, while flights to popular southern European holiday destinations, such as Croatia, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, will go ahead as planned. 

70 percent of passengers affected by the cancellations will be rebooked on an alternative flight within 24 hours of their original departure time. The remaining 30 percent will be able to request a refund or rebook for another flight, free of charge.

Dutch travel organisations redirect flights to other airports

Corendon has announced that 150 flights initially set to depart from Schiphol are to be redirected to Rotterdam The Hague Airport, and the company has said it hopes no other measures will have to be taken. The Corendon CEO has said the company will organise transportation to and from Rotterdam The Hague Airport for anyone affected by the changes.

TUI has made a similar decision, announcing last week that flights booked for this summer will not be cancelled. Most TUI holidays will therefore be going ahead as planned, although some travellers with flights booked in July or August will be departing from other airports in the Netherlands instead of Schiphol. Sunweb is also redirecting some passengers, rebooking them on flights with different departure times or that depart from a different airport. 

Some uncertainty remains for holidaymakers who have flights booked with other airlines. Both TUI and Sunweb have said they hope to have more information about what the cancellations at KLM and Transavia, for example, will mean for travellers by mid-July.

Flights cancelled? Know your rights!

The summer holidays are right around the corner, but thousands of travellers are still waiting to hear whether or not their plans will be affected by Schiphol’s new policy. So, what can you do if you’re worried about your upcoming holiday plans? 

If you’ve already booked flights but are now regretting that decision, sadly there doesn’t appear to be much you can do about it. Frank Oostdam, chairperson of The General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies (ANVR), has said that travellers who hope to cancel their flights as a result of the chaos at Schiphol won’t be able to do this for free, as it isn’t considered a valid reason. TUI and Sunweb have made similar statements.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag has said that the Dutch government doesn’t plan on compensating travellers affected by the cancellations at Schiphol this summer, saying that it is up to the individual airlines to offer compensation where necessary. Kaag added that the Ministry of Finance “is not responsible for the day-to-day operational management” at Schiphol: “As understandable as I think it is that people think that the government will do something, that is really not the case.”

Worried about how the crowds at Schiphol will affect your travel plans? Read these tips to make sure your journey goes as smoothly as possible.

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Feeling comfortable in your new place is critical for everybody’s acclimatisation process. Thanks to rental services for furniture, like the one offered by Move&Rent, you are able to settle down quickly and stress-free!

Did you know that moving or relocating is considered one of the key reasons people experience stress? Of course, there’s the packing and unpacking, but managing your budget and subscriptions can become emotional stress factors too. It takes time and effort to learn the idiosyncrasies of a new culture, meet new people and manage the impact this all has on your kids and finances. Within these intense circumstances, the comfort of your home provides the basis for you to keep all balls in the air.

The current situation on the Dutch housing marketExpats who come to the Netherlands for work might arrive with just a suitcase, with their jobs and other matters they have to deal with consuming a lot of time and energy. At the same time, the current situation on the Dutch real estate market presents several challenges for them. Finding a furnished flat is often problematic, especially in the cities, where demand exceeds supply. As a result, people will be moving from one rental property to another. This too leads to a higher demand for renting home furnishings.

Flexibility and mobilityFlexibility and mobility are trends that many businesses and individuals seek nowadays. Not only in jobs, but in many other aspects of our lives do we prefer renting over owning (cars, clothing or movies for instance). Furnishing a home is usually a long process. Where to go for this and where to go for that? Rental services for furniture offer an all-inclusive service for those who want to avoid the hassle of furnishing their homes. Imagine you’re on a temporary assignment somewhere, or a two-year internship. Would selecting and shopping for furniture be on the top of your list? Perhaps not.

No need to buy everything at onceFurnished accommodations have been available for years, but what if you were able to choose your own style from behind your laptop? Wouldn’t you want to handpick your main pieces of furniture and choose exactly what matches your style? Rental services for furniture let you select individual items, or an entire pack and a renting period. Personalising your home with your preferred contemporary style is ultimately also a way of spreading costs, since you don’t need to come up with a large sum of money when buying everything at once.

No more stressMoving and renting furniture is completely stress-free because everything is taken care of! Your rental provider delivers the furniture to your home and installs it in your living room, office, kitchen, bedroom, etc. If anything gets damaged unexpectedly, they come to fix it, and at the end of the rental period, they collect the items, so you don’t have to worry about reselling them or throwing them away.

Giving furniture a second lifeThe added value of a rental service is not only the fact that you don’t have to own your furniture, but also that the items will get a second life when you don’t need them any longer. Imagine that about 10 billion kilograms of furniture are discarded by businesses and consumers in the European Union each year, the majority of which is destined for either landfill or incineration, where only about 10 percent is recycled. And a piece usually still has five to 25 more years to go – giving furniture a second life is therefore an ideal solution.

Furthermore, these providers often offer a tailor-made concept with furniture from their partners; therefore, they don’t require to keep stock in a warehouse. And when the used furniture is returned or recycled at the end of the rental contract, no waste is produced. The circular economy at its core. After all, businesses, as well as individuals, increasingly choose a more sustainable approach or lifestyle.

Autonomy, flexibility, and sustainability come together in the concept of renting furniture. Thanks to these services, you can set up your ideal home stress-free and in no time. Check out Move&Rent in the Netherlands to see what they have to offer.

26 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

This week, a group of volunteers from the Dutch Archeology Association (AWN) made an exciting announcement: they’d discovered a relatively well-preserved ancient Roman temple in the village of Herwen-Hemeling, near the German border. 

2.000-year-old Roman temple found in Dutch village

Volunteers first came across parts of the temple in late 2021, and initially believed it to be the site of an ancient Roman road. With additional funding, the archaeological research agency (RAAP) was able to carry out a large-scale excavation, eventually uncovering what has now been identified as an almost 2.000-year-old Roman temple complex.

The dig uncovered two Roman-era temples: a larger Gallo-Roman temple with a tiled roof and colourfully painted walls, and a second smaller temple located nearby. One of the biggest finds was a large stone staircase leading downwards, which was located near the well, and those involved in the excavation have theorised this indicated that the well may have been used for ritualistic cleansing.

Archaeologists also found several (fire) pits, a number of statues and traditional altars, known as votive stones, dedicated to Hercules, Jupiter and Mercury, and several fibulae (clothes pins) from the first century, as well as roof tiles and pieces of various armour and weapons. Experts therefore believe the temple was mostly used by soldiers. 

Roman artefacts and archaeological digs in the Netherlands

Located right on the northern border of the Roman Empire, and only a stone’s throw away from the Lower Germanic Limes – which were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This marks the first time that temples have been discovered so near to the northern border, and the association has described the find as “unique” and “exceptional.” 

This isn’t the first time that Roman shrines have been discovered in the Netherlands, with ruins already having been uncovered in Nijmegen and Elst. However, experts say this recent excavation is notable as none of the other finds were as complete or well preserved as the one in Herwen-Hemeling.

Some of the findings are currently being displayed at the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen.

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25 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

This week, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) announced that the national women’s team – known as the Leeuwinnen, or Lionesses – will receive the same salaries as their male counterparts from July 1, 2022. 

Closing the pay gap between male and female footballers

The gender pay gap is an issue across practically all industries and jobs, including professional sports. Recent years have seen female athletes fight to receive the same prize money as sportsmen, and those discussions finally seem to have had an effect here in the Netherlands

In a statement on the KNVB website, the association confirmed that female football players will receive the same premiums (i.e. money players receive for name, portrait and video rights) as male players. With the new agreement taking effect on July 1, KNVB director Jan Dirk van der Zee has called it a historic decision: “The Orange Lionesses have become an integral part of the Dutch football landscape. We want to emphasise that with this important step.”

Equal pay an important step for future of sport in the Netherlands

The Dutch team is one of the top female football teams in the world, achieving serious success in a number of recent international championships. The team made it to the quarter-finals in the 2020 Olympics, and came in second place in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. In 2017, the Leeuwinnen won their first-ever title after beating Demark in the final of the Women’s European Championship.

The team hopes the KNVB’s decision to officially recognise and reward the hard work and success of the Lionesses marks a turning point in women’s football. “[We’re taking] a big step together towards an equal appreciation for both men and women who play for Orange,” says Vivianne Miedema. “It is also not only a great recognition for us as a current squad – it is an important social signal and we also hope that this will open doors for future Orange players.”

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25 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

This week, Heineken informed the Dutch hospitality industry that it was upping beer prices for bars and restaurants by an average of 5,8 percent. These increases are expected to be passed on to customers later this summer.

3,70 euros for a vaasje?: Heineken raising prices from August

Summer has finally arrived in the Netherlands! The weather has been gorgeous – and hopefully it’ll stay nice throughout the holidays – which means people up and down the country are looking to do whatever they can to make the most of the sunshine. But, anyone planning to relax on a terrace and soak up some rays with a portion of bitterballen and a cold beer should consider themselves warned.

From August 1, hospitality businesses in cities and towns across the Netherlands will face significantly higher wholesale costs, which will ultimately (and unsurprisingly) be passed on to their customers. With prices set to rise by an average of 5,8 percent, customers should expect the price of a vaasje (250 millilitres) to increase from 3,50 to 3,70 euros. 

Inflation and energy prices driving up production costs

Earlier this year, the major Dutch brewery warned customers that the rising cost of energy, as well as the high inflation rate and Dutch labour shortage, were driving up production and transportation costs. As a result, Heineken said it would soon have to increase prices in order to keep up with rising costs.

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24 June 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has been forced to scrap a number of trains between various Dutch cities on Friday and over the weekend, as a result of ongoing staff shortages within the company. 

NS running reduced timetable this weekend due to staff shortages

Less than two weeks ago NS temporarily scrapped services between Arnhem, Schiphol Airport, and Rotterdam. Now, with the busy summer season upon us, the rail operator has announced that a reduced service will be running on Friday, June 24 and throughout the weekend. 

On June 24, fewer intercity trains will run between The Hague, Utrecht, and Amersfoort. There will also be fewer sprinters between stations in Rotterdam and Dordrecht, and Leiden and Utrecht. More information about the adjusted timetable for the weekend is expected to be announced on Friday afternoon.

Dutch public transport affected by staff shortages and budget cuts

NS currently has around 1.100 job vacancies across a number of positions and has recently stepped up recruitment efforts and made changes to workers’ contracts in order to attract more employees. 

In addition to the current labour crisis, operators have warned that up to a third of Dutch public transport could be scrapped if the Dutch government decides to cut financial aid for the sector. This week, GVB – the public transport operator in Amsterdam – confirmed that budget cuts would “hit different lines” and “hurt a lot” when the new timetable comes into effect next year.

Want to know how the changes might affect your journey? Make sure to check the NS Reisplanner for up-to-date travel information.

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