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Dutch News
Amsterdam’s most expensive apartment goes on sale 11/29/2015

The most expensive apartment ever on sale in Amsterdam is the 1,440 square metre penthouse on the top of a new building on the IJ waterfront, according to the Volkskrant. The estimated price of the property, which covers the entire 25th floor of the building, is between €12m and €15m. The complex is being built on former timber yards west of the city’s central station and is due for completion in 2017. The property is being sold by Christie’s and several multi-millionaires have already been in touch, the paper says. They include Chinese and other foreign nationals as well as Dutch people from the Quote 500 rich list. The price of around €10,000 a square metre is similar to that paid on the city’s 17th century canal belt. Other properties in the building cost upwards of €550,000, according to Christie’s website.


Newcomers must pledge to uphold Dutch values, sign contract

All newcomers to the Netherlands who are required to take an integration course will also have to sign a ‘participation declaration’ pledging to uphold Dutch values, the government agreed on Friday. The decision follows what the government says is ‘successful trials’ of the concept in 13 councils between March 2014 to March 2015. In total, just over 4,000 people were involved in the trials and 1,500 completed the courses and signed the official declaration, a report for the social affairs ministry shows. Most of the signatories were people from central and Eastern Europe. When the programme is anchored in law next year, it will first focus on refugees, people coming to the Netherlands to be with their families and everyone who has to undergo an integration course. However, ‘at a later moment, people who do not have to take integration courses, such as EU migrants, may also be offered such a programme,’ social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said in a briefing to parliament. The participation declaration programme will form the first part of the main integration course and people who refuse to sign can be fined up to €1,250. ‘Our society can only function everyone who settles here participates and respects the basic principles of Dutch society,’ Asscher said in his briefing. Text A draft version of the declaration issued by the government in 2013 states that ‘in the Netherlands, all citizens are treated equally’ and that discrimination is not accepted. ‘In the Netherlands, we ask citizens to help each other and to support each other if necessary,’ it states. The document continues: ‘In the Netherlands, we ask all citizens to contribute to a pleasant and safe society, for example, by working, going to school or doing voluntary work. Speaking Dutch is very important in this.’ The declaration ends with the signatory saying they have taken note of these Dutch values and will play an active part in Dutch society.


Big vocational training schools to be broken up

The government wants to split the country’s larger mbo vocational training colleges into smaller units, education minister Jet Bussemaker said on Thursday. Several dozen mbo schools have over 5,000 pupils and these should be divided into several specialised colleges, the minister said. Some mbo colleges currently have over 20,000 pupils and can seem like ‘impersonal education factories’, the minister said. Smaller units will also be more familiar to students, parents, teachers and local industry, she said.



Dutchmen face jail in Britain for smuggling drugs in ‘fake’ ambulances

Three Dutchmen face lengthy jail terms in Britain for smuggling up to €2.2bn worth of cocaine and heroin into the country using second-hand ambulances, British media reported on Saturday. During the trial in Birmingham, the court was told how the group were equipped with bogus paramedics’ uniforms and even a fake patient on crutches. One man, named as 55-year-old Leonardus Bijlsma, has been convicted of smuggling while a second, Richard Engelsbel, aged 51, had admitted driving an ambulance on 25 trips during the operation. A fourth man, aged 28, was found not guilty. According to British prosecutors, 38-year-old Olof Schoon was the ‘central player’ who ran the fully taxed and insured ambulances run out of registered company offices in the Netherlands. He is said to have made 39 trips to Britain. The ambulances ran for 14 months, from April last year, until they were caught near a scrapyard in Smethwick in the West Midlands in June. At the same time, Dutch police carried out raids in Hoofddorp and Zwanenburg and found a further 10 ambulances in storage. They have been taken away for forensic investigation.

 
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