Monday

19th Aug 2019

Dutch parliament may not approve eurozone reforms

  • Dutch parliamentarians want to know more about the government's eurozone plans (Photo: Andrew Griffith)

The Dutch minority government might not be able to find a majority in parliament to approve the big eurozone reforms expected to be negotiated today in Brussels as both government and parliament during a six-hour long debate Tuesday refused to be specific about what would be acceptable.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not be able to count on the support of hard-right MP Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom (PVV), the government's usual parliamentary partner, who made it clear it would oppose any new rescue package.

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Instead, it is going to take the support of the Labour Party (PvdA) to tip the balance.

But Labour MP in turn are “not at all convinced that the cabinet will come home with a credible reform package”, Ronald Plasterk, the party’s finance spokesman, said.

He sketched out the kind of reform package his party would be willing to vote for, including a significant contribution to debt reduction by banks and other bondholders and a strong budget commissioner - although this was criticized for being too vague.

“We’ll keep our thoughts to ourselves,” Plasterk said. “We’ll have a good look at the proposals after the summit and make up our mind next week.” He said his party would oppose the reforms if they turned out to be less than acceptable, but refused to give concrete margins.

Rutte, for his part, refused again to elaborate on the government’s objectives for fear of complicating the negotiation process. He used the same argument ahead of a eurozone summit on Sunday (23 October).

“I cannot give you any details,” he said. “I understand your exasperation, but I ask for your understanding.”

Arie Slob, leader of the opposition Christian Union, reminded Rutte of the dangers of his reticence. “You run a minority government here. If you don’t find a majority on this, you’ll have a very big problem.”

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