The Dutch national football team, currently in Poland preparing for Euro 2012, dominates the newspapers again today, but it's a very different story to the usual tale of training and injuries; coach Bert van Marwijk took the squad to Auschwitz and the visit made a deep impression on the players.
The papers also cover the Green Left leadership battle, unemployment woes for people over the age of 55, the hidden costs of the commuters’ tax and EU corruption.
Reviewed Dutch dailies
AD and de Volkskrant both carry photographs of the Dutch national team at Auschwitz; they are very different photos of these usually exuberant young men, their faces are serious and they appear to be slightly dazed. "Words cannot describe Auschwitz," tweeted Khalid Boulahrouz and John Heitinga tweeted: "This is something we should never forget."
De Telegraaf’s sports section devotes its entire front page to the story and the photograph of all the neatly-dressed, healthy young men walking through the gates bearing the infamous words, Arbeit macht Frei (work brings you freedom) is somehow strange and incongruous. Coach Bert van Marwijk said: "There are no words to describe this, it’s extremely difficult to grasp."
Many people have questioned the wisdom of taking the players to Auschwitz so soon before the beginning of the tournament, but others say sharing this experience will bring the team closer together. Because football players are role models for so many youngsters, this visit to Auschwitz will have a far-reaching effect and reinforce the message that racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia must be stopped.
East European victory
The battle for the leadership of the Green Left party reached its climax yesterday: Jolande Sap saw off her challenger Tofik Dibi, taking a massive 84 percent of the votes. Trouw writes that Dibi knew he had no chance of winning and had only prepared a speech congratulating Sap on her victory.
However, his choice of words had a rather interesting subtext: "Congratulations on winning by this almost East European result," he said.
AD writes that a disappointed Dibi is now aiming for second place on the party's list of candidates for the upcoming general election. "Of course I'm disappointed," he said, "Jolande won by an almost East European margin," he added.
His challenge to Sap's leadership has damaged the party; according to recent polls, the party has slumped from its current 10 seats in parliament to just four.
There's sobering news in Trouw for jobseekers: according to an employment market prognosis released by the Dutch labour exchange and unemployment benefits office (UWV), it will be extremely difficult for people to find a job until 2017. Until 2013, the number of people looking for work will increase but the number of available jobs will decrease. The job market will only slowly begin to recover in 2014.
People over the age of 55 currently make up the largest group of unemployed people and the UWV says it will only get worse; unemployment among that age group is set to rise to more than 11 percent. The UWV says unemployment will remain above the pre-credit crisis level until 2017.
AD reports on the hidden costs of the government's plan to start taxing travel expenses. At the moment, the vast majority of workers who travel to work by private car or on public transport are reimbursed for their travel expenses by their employer. As part of its massive cost-cutting drive, the government has decided to count this as income and tax it. AD says an investigation by the three largest Dutch unions has revealed that the measure will have far greater financial consequences than previously thought.
The unions say that because travel expenses will now be counted as taxable income, many working families will see their rent, health care and child care rebates cut. The measure will also hit handicapped people particularly hard. Agnes Jongerius, chair of the FNV union, tells the paper: "We're shocked by the massive effect this will have on people's incomes. The cabinet just can't do this."
According to the paper, hundreds of thousands of Dutch families will be hard hit by the commuters' tax and on average, be around 1000 euros worse off per year.
Trouw covers Transparency International's (TI) report on corruption in government organisations in 25 European countries; according to the report, corruption costs the European Union 120 billion euros per year. The paper says corruption in southern European countries - Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy - is hampering economic recovery.
Transparency International says the link between the theft of public monies and the financial crisis in southern European countries "can no longer be ignored." According to TI, bribing politicians and civil servants in southern European countries is normal, everyday business.