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‘No country has such a bad price ceiling’

The cabinet will transfer tens of billions of euros to energy suppliers next year to help households with their high energy bills. Thanks to the price cap, consumers will pay a maximum price for part of their gas and electricity consumption from the beginning of next year. But how can the government prevent energy suppliers from earning extra money from this price ceiling, a subsidy that is specifically intended for households? Do energy companies pass the subsidy on to households on a one-to-one basis?

Almost the entire House of Representatives is concerned about this and wants the cabinet to prevent such ‘excess profits’ from energy suppliers, “so that the scheme does not finance extra bonuses, dividend payments and/or purchase of own shares” is stated in an almost unanimously supported motion by a Member of Parliament Mahir Alkaya (SP).

That will not work with the current plans, thinks Maarten Pieter Schinkel of the University of Amsterdam. “No country in Europe has chosen such a bad ceiling system to help households with energy prices,” says the professor of competition economics and regulation. “The cabinet threatens to drive up the energy price further and does not prevent excess profits.” Schinkel is surprised about a letter that Minister Rob Jetten (Climate and Energy, D66) sent to the House of Representatives on Monday about the elaboration of the price ceiling.

Jetten changes course therein. He initially wanted to carry out the House’s mandate and only compensate energy companies for the costs they incur, plus a reasonable margin, as requested by a widely supported motion by independent MP Pieter Omtzigt. This reasonable margin had to be determined by the regulator on the energy market, ACM. But ACM informed the ministry that it cannot now determine that reasonable margin, Jetten wrote to the House.

ACM says it needs sufficient historical data for this. “However, the current market conditions are very different from the recent past,” ACM writes. Determining a reasonable margin is then ‘a political consideration’. Jetten is now asking another ‘external party’ to determine a reasonable margin. That takes time and that is why Jetten says that he will only be able to introduce the scheme according to the wishes of the House from 1 March at the earliest.

Also read: Billions are pouring in at the oil companies – and the criticism of that is growing

Maximum price

None of this makes any difference to consumers, who will pay a maximum price for gas and electricity on part of their energy bill as of 1 January. It does matter for the subsidy that companies may receive and therefore for the costs incurred by the government.

Because in January and February, Jetten wants to reimburse a higher amount to the energy suppliers, he wrote to the House on Monday: the difference between the market price that the suppliers themselves charge consumers and the price ceiling. There is, however, a risk that energy suppliers will be less inclined to ‘purchase efficiently’ because of this high compensation, writes Jetten. In other words: to buy energy yourself as cheaply as possible. After all, they are partly reimbursed for the market price that they themselves ask consumers. According to Jetten, there are then “fewer guarantees to prevent overcompensation”. In those months, Jetten wants to “prevent excess profits as much as possible” by checking afterwards.

Energy suppliers meanwhile say that Jetten’s plan will not lead to excess profits “because the subsidy is fully implemented as a discount to small consumers”, the sector organization Energie Nederland said. Accountants will also check retrospectively per company whether too much subsidy has been paid.

Generous compensation

Schinkel does not believe this and does not think it is smart that the cabinet now temporarily opts for compensation for the difference between the price ceiling and the market price, instead of the purchase price plus a margin. This more generous compensation threatens to further increase energy prices and actually creates excess profits, he previously analyzed with four other economists in an economic journal. ESB. “I am surprised that the government is still introducing this temporarily after all the warnings. It’s not a good system. In our research, we have not come across any other European country that does such turnover compensation.” The House will debate the ceiling on Thursday.

What is wrong with the energy ceiling proposed by the cabinet?

“If energy suppliers know that they will receive compensation based on the market price that they themselves ask consumers, it is in their interest to increase that price. If many energy suppliers compete with each other, they cannot do so quickly. But in the Netherlands, three energy suppliers control about 80 percent of the market. We know from research that companies display strategic behavior in such markets and that prices rise, even without making mutual agreements. They can then pocket the higher profits.”

How should it be?

“It is better to pay each household a fixed amount per month, as the cabinet does in November and December. In those months, all households receive 190 euros twice. For example, make that 210 euros per month next year. That costs about as much as the price ceiling could cost now: about 21 billion euros. The government can increase that monthly amount if energy prices rise, so that households are no worse off than with the current energy ceiling plan. The advantage is that all households retain an incentive to save energy and continue to compare prices. After all, they will receive that 210 euros anyway. And the amount can be deducted one-to-one from everyone’s energy bill.”

But the cabinet wants to give households certainty that the price will not exceed a maximum. There is no such certainty with a fixed amount.

“The advantage of our idea is that it is simpler and households have more left over. If the government nevertheless wants to stick to a ceiling, it would be better to opt for cost compensation. Then energy suppliers will be reimbursed for their costs plus a margin. I am surprised that ACM says it cannot determine a reasonable margin. The regulator has extensive experience with this in these and other markets, for example in the rail and postal market, where it determines a reasonable price for stamps. Yes, it’s a bit more complicated now because energy prices fluctuate so much. But ACM simply has to look at the purchasing costs of companies. Plus a margin for other costs, normal profit and risk. There’s nothing political about this. This is the task of a market supervisor and now ACM is throwing its hands in the air. If necessary, the cabinet will set a margin itself: 5 percent or 10 percent on the purchase price. Anything is better than the turnover compensation that the cabinet is now temporarily opting for.”

Do other countries do this better?

“The Netherlands is alone in Europe. No country has such a bad ceiling system. Germany subsidizes 80 percent of what you used in energy last year. That is much smarter, because then there remains a strong incentive for everyone to save energy and to look for a cheaper energy supplier. After all, there are no households that receive the low ceiling price for their entire consumption as in the Netherlands. The disadvantage of the German plan is that the government gives much more subsidy to large energy consumers, usually high incomes, for example to people who live in a drafty castle. But the Netherlands disrupts the market much more. The majority of households are probably fully covered by the energy ceiling. A large part of the normal functioning of the market therefore disappears. Companies no longer have to compete for those consumers. That drives up prices. You can support households more and cheaper with a simple system. Why does the minister not opt ​​for that? ”

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Former FIFA boss Blatter: World Cup allocation to Qatar was wrong

Former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has criticized Qatar’s allocation of the upcoming World Cup. In an interview published Monday with the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger he says the choice for Qatar was “a mistake”. Blatter calls Qatar “too small” and points to Michel Platini, former boss of the European football association UEFA, as the main culprit for the allocation.

“We agreed in the Executive Committee at the time that Russia would have the 2018 World Cup and the US the 2022 World Cup. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two former political opponents had organized the World Cup one after the other,” says the Swiss. in the interview. However, former French footballer Platini, who was also on that committee, changed his mind after lunch with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Blatter said.

Sarkozy is said to have asked Platini, after a dinner with the crown prince of Qatar, to ensure that the oil state would get the World Cup, something that Platini and his colleagues at UEFA subsequently also ensured, instead of on the US Qatar to vote. “And Qatar six months later bought $14.6 billion worth of fighter jets from the French,” Blatter said.

Blatter was the boss of FIFA for 17 years and is said to have broken several ethical rules during his years at the head of the football association. Like Platini, he was acquitted of corruption in July this year after years of investigation. Swiss prosecutors appealed that ruling.

Also read: Orange sponsors do not completely boycott the World Cup

Gay Rights in Qatar

Since the allocation of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, there has been a lot of criticism of the host country. The Guardian wrote in 2021 that at least 6,500 migrant workers from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would have died after the allocation of the World Cup to Qatar when building football stadiums, among other things. In addition, the rights of homosexuals in the country are widely violated.

An excerpt from an interview from the German television channel ZDF with a World Cup ambassador from Qatar that was broadcast on Tuesday confirms the latter. Former Qatari international Khalid Salman says in an interview that homosexuality is “a mental illness”. Before a press officer cuts the interview, Salman insists that gays coming to the World Cup “must accept the rules here” and understand that homosexuality is prohibited in Qatar.

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Mark Rutte gets homework from the VVD faction

The VVD faction in the House of Representatives has sent Mark Rutte out with an assignment: he must do his best to limit the arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers to the Netherlands. In exchange, the MPs of the VVD accept that there will be a law that will force municipalities to receive asylum seekers. The day before, they were still vehemently against it.

It is unclear what exactly Rutte will do. And also why just the Prime Minister’s promise to commit was enough for the faction to change its position. Tuesday’s crisis meeting in the House of Representatives, which lasted several hours, seemed primarily intended for the aldermen, local party leaders and councilors of the VVD, who have been worried and angry for months about the law of their party colleague, State Secretary for Asylum Eric van der Burg. The VVD members in The Hague showed that they take these concerns seriously and that they were prepared to face a near crisis. In any case, this now seems to have weakened the position of group chairman Sophie Hermans: Rutte was needed to change her group’s mind.

Sophie Hermans is questioned by journalists.
Photo Bart Maat/ANP

Rutte himself received a lesson in humility from the MPs. He had to get out of his Torentje to hear their objections to the law, but was not allowed to enter the meeting right away. He waited in a small room until he was called. After that, he later said with a serious face, he had mainly listened to the ‘great concern’ of the MPs about ‘the high influx of asylum seekers’. “It’s too high.”

Difficult compromise

The law to distribute asylum seekers more fairly among municipalities is part of a difficult compromise, just after the summer, between the four coalition parties of Rutte IV. It was unmentionable for the ChristenUnie and D66 that that deal was adjusted to accommodate the VVD. But that party is having a hard time: angry party members threaten an uprising at the VVD congress on 19 November.

Why did the VVD put its heels in the sand right now? Four questions about the asylum law

The opposition in the VVD faction could have resulted in the fall of Rutte IV, the corridor at the VVD in the House of Representatives was filled with journalists for hours. But it did not come to that: Sophie Hermans said after the meeting that the group had had “a spicy conversation” with Mark Rutte. That he had been ‘sawn’ and that ‘his answers’ had given the MPs ‘sufficient confidence’. She didn’t want to say more about it, that was ‘confidential’.

It is enough for the faction, but with so much vagueness, will that also apply to its own supporters, and to the VVD members in municipalities? Klassiek Liberaal, a conservative platform in the VVD, reacted immediately: the party had “gone through the pump again”. “This would have been the moment to say: we cannot accept this, enough is enough.”

VVD member Paul Slettenhaar, also an alderman in Castricum, says that he “does not understand it at all”. “First the group was against, now they are for it. And nothing has changed at all.” Slettenhaar does not find the law a solution to the reception problems. “It is only about managing the short term, there is no vision of the structural problems behind it. You are not going to solve anything with it as long as the influx is so high.”

Slettenhaar, he says, had at least expected that Rutte would have made clear commitments to the VVD group to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers. “To support such a controversial law, you want the cabinet to look at specific points. That you are not just brainstorming a bit.”

Don’t go away

Such was the outcome of a day of impending crisis in The Hague: Rutte IV’s coalition remains intact, Van der Burg gets the law that he had promised the House of Representatives much earlier. But the anger has not gone away among the VVD members outside The Hague – at the party congress, members can still speak out against the law in a motion, which could cause further problems for the coalition.

This fits in with a trend: the top of the VVD seems to be losing its grip on its own party. In the spring, members of a congress adopted a motion rejecting the nitrogen plans of their own minister, Christianne van der Wal. And against the wishes of the VVD top, the members chose Eric Wetzels as party chairman, and not the nominated candidate Onno Hoes.

At the party congress in a week and a half, the VVD eyes in the hall will almost certainly be completely focused on Rutte: he has homework, what will become of it? At the party congress in the spring, with the nitrogen motion, he did not interfere in the discussion, which led to strong emotions in the hall. Now he will almost certainly have to prove his leadership.

Photo Bart Maat/ANP

The coalition is told that Rutte may try to make the government’s asylum policy stricter, together with the CDA, which is making migration an increasingly important theme. But the ChristenUnie also has a following that is making itself heard more and more often, and that party will soon have a party congress.

The ChristenUnie and D66 emphasized on Tuesday that no new agreements have been made about limiting the numbers of asylum seekers, and that the VVD’s support for the law is the “essential breakthrough”, and nothing else.

Dotting the i

On Tuesday evening, the party leaders of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie met at Eric van der Burg’s ministry to discuss the “dotting the i” of the law. A law that is now supported by the entire coalition. Afterwards, an “extremely relieved” Van der Burg was finally able to announce that his law had succeeded, so that asylum seekers can be distributed among the municipalities. “This should have happened sooner. You got my chagrin about that,” said the minister with a broad grin.

Van der Burg said that he had sometimes been disappointed by the opposition in the VVD group in recent weeks. “Then I was like: come on now, we have to face it.” He understood, he said, that his party wants to reduce the number of asylum seekers, but also warned that this is “very difficult to achieve”. “I’ve been working on it for ten months.”

Van der Burg will defend his law at the VVD congress on 19 November. “I have many friends in the party who often agree with me, but sometimes strongly disagree. Fortunately, that is possible at a club like the VVD.”

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Marion Bloem wins Constantijn Huygens Prize for ‘personal’ oeuvre

Writer Marion Bloem (70) has won the Constantijn Huygens Prize for her entire oeuvre, consisting of novels, stories and poems. That is what the jury of the Jan Campert foundation has on Tuesday announced in radio show Plastic. Flower writes, from Not an ordinary Indian girlthe book with which she broke through in 1983, up to her most recent work indo (2020), ‘personal, original, compelling and based on great social involvement’.

Her work often deals with the relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia, or the former colony of the Dutch East Indies. The subtitle of indo is ‘a personal history about identity’ – she explores the Indian culture, what it consists of, what the nickname ‘Indo’ means and why it is still used. It is work that “everyone interested in the theme of identity should read,” the jury wrote. Bloem often writes autobiographically; Her good hand (2016) was about her mother and A sign of life (2018) about her sister.

Also read this double interview with Bloem and Wolffers from 2019: ‘I never found with anyone what I found with Ivan’

Bloem is “confused but happy” with her profit, she writes on Twitter, and refers to “ancestor” JC Bloem, who received the same award in 1949. She also mentions her husband, author Ivan Wolffers, who died in October. “Of course I miss my biggest fan, but know that he is enjoying something.” He had been suffering from prostate cancer since 2002. For years, both Wolffers himself and Bloem shared messages about his illness and also his choice for euthanasia via Twitter.

An amount of 12,000 euros is attached to the Constantijn Huygens Prize. Bloem will publish a new book in January next year, Girls from the villagethe third book of a triptych with Not Ordinary Indian Girl and A hundred year old girl.

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The car sound of the future comes from the German spa town of Malente

Uwe Dettmann can “blindly recognize” some electric cars by their sound. To how the hum is clearly a short bit of sound that is played over and over. Or how it is related to how far the driver presses the pedal. The variation in intonation. “I immediately think: is it well or badly done?”

His fellow sound engineer Philip Luedtke: “Sometimes you only hear high-frequency whistles. That is very irritating.”

Dettmann and Luedtke are a striking duo in German business. In a northern corner of the land of the fuel engine, they are in the small spa town of Malente tinkering with the sound of the car of the future every day. This is where the sound system division of the Dutch listed Kendrion is located.

The question that the experienced electrical engineer Dettmann and the young sound engineer Luedtke revolve around: what should an electric car sound like? The characteristic sound of the fuel engine will disappear over the years, but something has to replace it. This has been a worldwide requirement since 2019, and has to do with safety. You should be able to hear a car coming. But then the question is: what is a good sound?

Dettmann and Luedtke have been working on it for about six years – and what they have come up with has already ended up in hundreds of thousands of cars. Their branch of Kendrion, which reported the figures for the third quarter on Tuesday, has an annual turnover of 30 million euros.

In those six years, they have already seen a significant change in thinking about sound for electric cars, says Dettmann. “In the beginning, we often heard from car manufacturers that we started talking to: we want a sound, but as cheaply as possible!” Then you get such an endless repeating sound on one pitch. Luedtke: „Just to comply with the law. It was funny sometimes. For our first demonstration in China, we had designed some artificial sounds. We thought: in Europe they may find it more difficult to say goodbye to the fuel engine, there they probably want aggressive, masculine sounds…”

Dettmann: “V6! V8!”

Luedtke: “In China they are more focused on the future, we thought. But the feedback was: This is very different from what we expected. Can’t it sound like a V8?” In Europe, brands wanted more futuristic sounds, Dettmann says.

Annoying, simple car sounds

Kendrion has meanwhile developed a complex system. It’s in many German, Chinese and American cars, the two men say – but they can’t name names because of contracts.

Also read: The ‘car tire of the future’ must be whisper quiet

It is precisely because of their system that Luedtke and Dettmann look down on some ‘simple’ car noises, which they say can quickly become irritating. “Our system is a lot more complex,” explains Luedtke. „It is really not only zhhhhhhhhhh or beep beep from backing up. Car brands can mix sounds themselves, and these are connected to all kinds of functions of the car.” There is a separate sound for each driving situation. “The frequencies respond to the car, and we use the entire width of the spectrum. Depending on how the accelerator pedal is, how fast the car goes…”

Dettmann: „Or it adapts to the type of car. For a smaller car you may want some higher frequencies, while an SUV has a little more bass. There is often a real idea behind it that the car can give an identity.” That really matters, especially for more expensive brands, the two say.

What Luedtke likes about the job, he says, is that it’s creative – few companies, he says, allow you to contribute to how it should sound on the street. But don’t think there are limitless possibilities, says Dettmann: the more sound complexity you give a car, the more space the sound system takes up. “It is wrong to think: an electric car has no engine, so you have a lot of space. We don’t have that.”

He thinks for a moment. “There is a car brand – we can’t name the name – with one speaker for in the car…”

Luedtke: “…that saves space…”

Dettmann: „… and when the car reverses, the speaker at the front gets a bit louder, because it is further from the rear. Blind people then think that the car is just moving forward and coming closer – because the noise in front gets louder. Then when he moves forward, they think he is far away – because the sound is softer – and that they can cross…”

Luedtke: “And the law allows that!”

Read alsoIt didn’t go without a fight, but from 2035 the end will be for cars with fossils

Sound on the inside

Kendrion makes all the systems itself, also in Malente. In the small factory there are mainly many robots that assemble the loudspeakers. In recent years a lot has been invested in automation: serial production became possible because the demand for the products increased. At a single workstation, a dexterous worker stretches the copper wire that is characteristic of loudspeakers in circles.

Hardly had Kendrion designed a sound system for the exterior of electric cars, when the attention of some brands shifted again. Because an electric motor also gives a completely different sound experience behind the wheel. Dettmann: “In principle, an electric car has no engine noise. So inside everything is quiet, up to 30, 40 kilometers per hour. Then you get sounds from the wheels and the wind.”

But in the meantime there are all kinds of other, ‘small’ sounds that you hear better in an electric car, precisely because it is so quiet. For example, there is a kind of whistling from the gearbox. Dettmann: “Super annoying. But don’t forget the windshield wipers! They are actually extremely loud!” In addition, there is another problem with the silence: people use the sound in a fuel car to estimate how fast they are going, for example when they take an exit. So we wanted to mask small noises like the gearbox inside with some kind of background noise, while also giving the driver an idea of ​​what’s going on.”

Originally, not all car brands were interested in this. Luedtke: “But customers then thought there were quality problems with the car, because of all the little noises they heard.” Opinions have changed, according to the duo. “Now more and more models are getting a soft interior sound. This has been our specialty for some time now: we have already made systems that pleasantly guide the sounds of a fuel engine to the cabin.”

How does this continue? Luedtke and Dettmann try to look ahead. “What if self-driving cars will soon be on the road?” says Luedtke. “It could very well be that a driver does not fully trust that everything works properly at the beginning, because it is new. It might be interesting to give feedback to the driver with sound: okay, I’ve seen that bridge!” According to him, Kendrion also looks at “psycho-acoustics”. “When steering is no longer necessary, you might think of a soundscape that leads to more focus. So that a driver can work.”

Dettmann: „I think that ‘noise pollution’ may become a problem in the future. If all the electric cars make noise and they are at an intersection at the same time… The system might be able to recognize that and lower the volume. Just like driving past a hospital or at night. I think a lot will change legally. We are really only at the beginning.”

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Cabinet wants to tempt municipalities with ‘financial incentive’ to receive asylum seekers

The cabinet will reward municipalities that make reception places for asylum seekers available on their own initiative with a ‘financial incentive’. That’s in the dispersal law on asylum receptionwhich is currently before consultation and which the VVD parliamentary party sided with on Tuesday after the intervention of Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD).

If the bill is implemented, municipalities will receive 2,500 euros per reception place from next year, if they make a reception location of at least one hundred places available for a period of at least five years. If municipalities do not offer enough shelter places on their own initiative, provinces and municipalities will divide the shelter places through their statutory duties. The provinces must report on this to State Secretary Eric Van der Burg (Asylum and Migration, VVD), who will then make a decision before 1 September next year.

The aim of the bill is “to distribute asylum seekers more fairly across the country than hitherto”, State Secretary Van der Burg told the media at the Ministry of Justice and Security on Tuesday evening. With the plans, Van der Burg wants to encourage municipalities to invest in ‘sustainable reception locations’. Next year, a total of about 55,000 reception places will be needed.

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Neither forced nor voluntary: ‘urge’ in youth care

All alarm bells go off when Suzanne (33) tells the guardian of her 12-year-old twins that she is pregnant again. Not long after, she hears from the regional youth protection organization that a request for an investigation is being made by the Child Protection Board. Suzanne, who for privacy reasons does not enter with her last name NRC wants, does not agree, but she is told by her lawyer Reinier Feiner that she had better cooperate. “Countering costs more,” he reasons.

Suzanne lost her twins in 2010 because she and her then-boyfriend were suspected of serious child abuse. Reason for the council to put the babies out of the house as a matter of urgency. On appeal, the gifted Suzanne was acquitted, because the court ruled that it could not be determined who was the perpetrator and who was the co-perpetrator of the abuse.

Suzanne and her lawyer find it difficult to digest that she is now, twelve years after the placement of her babies, on the radar of youth protection. The fact that she lost custody of her twin daughters in 2010 is completely unrelated to her current situation: she is pregnant by her new boyfriend, not her ex. Lawyer Feiner: “Acquittal does not count in juvenile law. The ‘worries’ count, not the facts.”

reluctant

In the request for investigation by the Child Protection Board, seen by NRC, it is recognized that concerns about Suzanne’s ‘parenting skills’ are not based on current information. Instead, the aid workers base themselves on the situation as it was twelve years ago. According to her lawyer, Suzanne then “never had a real chance to raise her children”, and it is understandable that after all these years she “has fear of authorities”.

Parents sometimes reluctantly accept help for fear of more severe measures

The youth care system has two routes: the voluntary, in which parents agree to help with the upbringing, and the forced, in which a juvenile court orders a child custody order. In the latter case, a family is accompanied by a guardian.

Sometimes families do not meet the conditions for forced youth care, but care providers are so concerned about the safety of the child that they ask parents to agree to help – as the heavily pregnant Suzanne was asked to cooperate in an investigation. The result is often that parents are reluctant to accept this ‘help’ for fear of more severe measures, such as a family supervision order and custodial placement.

This middle ground is not legally established, says lawyer Denise Verkroost. Aid at the interface between voluntary and forced intervention must be laid down in law, says Verkroost. Graduated at the end of October them in this legal twilight zone, which has come to be known as ‘urge’ within youth care. She sees in practice that this type of aid has “major consequences”. For example, there is a lot of uncertainty about the legal position of parents and children. The rights and obligations of care providers are also unclear.

drastic

In September it turned out a report on the Child Protection Measures Review Act of Leiden University that youth protection institutions without legal basis decide where children who have been removed from their homes should stay until they reach adulthood. A drastic decision that cannot be reviewed by a juvenile court. Verkroost’s research shows that the lack of a statutory regulation leads to differences between municipalities that are responsible for youth care. This is undesirable, says Verkroost.

Also read: Child protection does not help children to a better home situation

She says that going to the juvenile court, but also a possible out-of-home placement, are used as ‘pressure’ to deploy help within a ‘voluntary’ route. For most parents, going to the juvenile court is the ultimate specter. Fearing more serious consequences, such as a custodial placement, they often accept the suggested help. But that is unjustified, says lawyer Verkroost. “At least you have rights in court, your position as a parent is clear and you know that an independent person is looking at your case.”

Going to the juvenile court and a possible out-of-home placement are sometimes used as ‘pressurization’ to get help

The lawyer therefore advocates better information for parents and children by care providers. For example, parents should be told what their rights are, and parents’ and children’s views on the situation should be included in the decision-making process as standard, even before the decision has actually been taken. Care providers, in turn, must be aware of their stronger position vis-à-vis vulnerable families because of their knowledge advantage and competences.

Denise Verkroost saw in her research that youth professionals act in this way because they are concerned about the child and want to protect it. “There will be circumstances in which it may be understandable that care providers want to intervene, but that does not automatically give them the right to disrupt family life just like that,” says Verkroost.

Informed choice

Suzanne continues to talk to the youth protectors on the advice of her lawyer, because the consequences of a refusal can be significant. The fact that she can hire a lawyer like Feiner is due to a temporary arrangement that makes legal aid possible in cases where this is normally excluded, because citizens are considered to be sufficiently self-reliant, such as objection procedures at the tax authorities, but also an intended protection investigation. by the Child Protection Board. “Parents can thus make an informed choice,” says Feiner.

He is annoyed, however, that as a lawyer he is not allowed to submit documents that argue for his client. “That is a big difference with a judicial procedure, while they treat you as if a judge has issued a supervision order.”

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US around Congressional elections: fetus dolls and cardboard ex-president Trump

Americans will vote for Congress on Nov. 8. In recent months, there has been an active campaign with, among other things, fetus dolls and cardboard cutouts of former President Donald Trump.

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EU ministers and regulators clash over stricter banking rules

How strict will the stricter rules for banks be? There is an extensive discussion about this in the European Union. This Tuesday, the finance ministers of the EU member states agree on a proposal. According to critics, this entails a considerably watered-down version of earlier, internationally agreed agreements on capital buffers for banks.

Next year, the ministers will have to agree on the final rules, with the European Commission already making a first move last year, and the European Parliament that will make its contribution in the coming months.

The discussion is about to what extent the ‘final’ Basel III rules, also known as ‘Basel 3.5’, will be adopted for European banks. Under the auspices of the Basel Committee, international supervisors already agreed on these rules in 2017, whereby it was agreed that banks worldwide would have to hold more capital from 2023. The idea was that this would reduce the risk of a credit crisis, such as in 2009, even more compared to the ‘first’ Basel III rules, which were introduced in 2010.

Also read: Banks must hold more capital

Those rules still had to be converted into concrete measures in the various areas. That process is now in full swing; it now seems that a less strict approach is being taken in Europe than what the regulators had in mind in 2017.

Less space for banks themselves

The idea behind Basel 3.5 is that banks are given less room for individual adjustments to the capital requirements. Until now, banks were allowed to calculate how much capital they have to set aside for their loans on the basis of their own internal models approved by the regulator. This means, among other things, that banks with many mortgages – loans with ‘safe’ collateral – maintain relatively few capital buffers compared to banks with a riskier portfolio. Under Basel 3.5 it was agreed that, however ‘risk-free’ the loan portfolio was, according to the bank itself, a minimum amount of capital must always be maintained. As a result, European banks may have to set aside an average of 15 percent more capital.

In the proposal of the European Commission last year, and the ministers this Tuesday, the introduction of the ‘capital floor’ has been postponed. The idea of ​​Basel 3.5 was that that floor would be phased in as early as 2023 within five years. But in the proposal from the European Commission last year, and the ministers this Tuesday, the introduction of the ‘capital floor’ has been delayed and extended from 2025 to 2032. A number of other rules are also relaxed or delayed in the proposal.

The idea behind the adjustments is that the rules are thus more adapted to the specific European situation. The banks here have relatively many more mortgages on their balance sheets compared to, for example, the United States.

But the ‘dilution’ of Basel 3.5, as the opponents call it, is not without protest from the regulators. The heads of European banking supervision, Andrea Enria at the European Central Bank and José Manuel Campa at the European Banking Authority, exclaimed in a blog post last week urges European leaders to ‘abide by what has been agreed internationally’. The two point out that Europe was already at the table in the talks that led to the agreements in 2017, in which the European situation was already taken into account. “Claims that the agreements are not a good fit for the EU financial sector are therefore misleading.”

Proponents of the adjustments – including the lobbying clubs of banks – argue that the adjustments will make banks better able to support the EU economy. After all, if banks have to hold extra capital, that money cannot be used for loans.

Enria and Campa wrote last week that the full introduction of Basel is good for the economy. “Strict rules make for strong banks. And strong banks are better able to serve businesses, citizens and the economy at large.” ECB Vice-President Luis de Guindos said Tuesday before the meeting of finance ministers that “any change in itself may seem like an isolated hole in the dike protecting the banking system. But together, all those holes will affect solidity and stability.”

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European Commission begins ‘thorough’ investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

The European Commission is a thorough investigation started after the acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard by tech company Microsoft. The Commission says it is concerned that Activision’s games, such as the popular Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero games, will only be available on Microsoft’s Xbox after the acquisition and not on other consoles. The European Commission recently conducted a preliminary investigation into the acquisition, which showed that Microsoft would also have an interest in limiting access to Activision games.

Microsoft had submitted the proposed acquisition to the European Commission in early October. The tentative deadline for approval of the deal was November 8, but now Brussels has announced it needs more time for a second investigation. Brussels has until 23 March for the new, more in-depth investigation. The investigation should show whether additional conditions should be imposed on the acquisition.

Microsoft previously said that rival Sony’s games will remain available after the acquisition, but Sony doesn’t believe this. “Sony, as the market leader, says it’s concerned about Call of Duty, but we said we’re committed to making the same game available on the same day for both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less,” Microsoft said earlier.

At the beginning of this year, it was announced that Microsoft had bought the game publisher for 68.7 billion dollars (60 billion euros at the time). the American, British and European competition authorities have yet to give their approval. If approved, it will be the largest acquisition in the history of the tech company founded by Bill Gates. This will make Microsoft the third largest gaming company in the world.

Also read: Discrimination is ingrained at game publisher Activision Blizzard and sexual misconduct is rampant