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Dutch report Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-19 09:05:59
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Conditions on expanding EU bail-out fund

The Netherlands has stopped its opposition to the expansion of a European emergency fund to bail out countries which get into financial trouble on condition countries get their finances in order. The financial stability fund can borrow up to €440bn and is central to the €750bn euro zone bail-out system. But in order to maintain a good credit rating, it can actually only lend countries around €250bn.  Finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said at the start of a two-day Ecofin meeting in Brussels that “we must make sure the money we have promised is actually available.” While it is 'theoretically possible' to increase the fund's loan capacity without raising individual contributions 'that will be difficult', he said in an interview in the Financieele Dagblad.

Both Greece and Ireland have been bailed out during the debt crisis and there are worries Portugal and possibly Spain may also apply for emergency financing. But there are fears the fund needs more money because it will not be enough to cover both countries. De Jager told Dow Jones news agency the Netherlands, Germany and Finland want euro zone members to commit to budget, banking sector and structural economic reforms before they take action on the fund.

The capacity should be expanded, 'only under the condition that the other countries deliver on other topics - economic reforms, fiscal consolidation, and address any concerns if any in the banking sector,' Dow Jones quoted De Jager as saying. The Netherlands is one of six euro zone AAA rated members – alongside Germany, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Finland. The Dutch guarantee currently stands at €26bn.


The Netherlands lags on innovation, research and education

The Netherlands is losing ground in terms of education, research and innovation, according to a new report on the state of the nation's efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy. The government wants to be in the top 5 knowledge-based economies but still has a long way to go and risks missing the target altogether, the report by the government backed KIA organisation shows. While private investment in Dutch education has gone up and entrepreneurship is a respected profession, many 'excellent' students are not being sufficiently challenged, the number of researchers is falling and the government and private sector are not putting in enough money, it says.

KIA chairman Alexander Rinnooy Kan said in a statement that the Netherlands cannot afford to lose its grip on the top. 'We will have to do more with the existing resources over the next few years,' he said. “We will have to make sharp choices.” In addition, foreign firms were not being encouraged enough to set up R&D departments in the Netherlands, he said. Others, such as Organon and Abbott are disappearing, and that is not a good sign.

A report by the national statistics office CBS on Monday showed the Netherlands spends 0.88% of GDP on research and development, compared with an EU average of 1.25%.


Unemployment low in Netherlands

Those contracting in Holland could be buoyed to know that the Netherland's has the lowest rate of unemployment across the European Union (EU) member countries. According to figures released from Eurostat, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate across the 27 EU states stood at 9.6 per cent during November 2010, which is unchanged from the pervious month.

However, joblessness was just 4.4 per cent in the Netherlands and 4.8 per cent in Luxembourg, which could be good news for people undertaking international contracting in the countries. Eurostat defines unemployed persons as those aged between 15 and 74 years, who are without work, available to start a job within two weeks and have actively sought employment at some time during the previous four weeks.

According to the organisation, the euro area's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.1 per cent in November 2010. Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that youth unemployment in the Netherlands was 8.2 percentage points below the OECD average.

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