Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Opposition parties rescue Dutch budget plan

  • Groenlinks warned the plan might unravel depending on who wins snap elections in September (Photo: zemistor)

Opposition parties in The Netherlands have salvaged budget-cutting plans designed to protect the country's triple-A rating and to meet EU targets.

The left-wing Christenunie, the liberal D66 and the Groenlinks parties on Thursday (27 April) got behind the minority caretaker government of centre-right leader Mark Rutte to give him a 77-out-of-150 majority in parliament for the measures.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Details of the €10-billion-or-so package are to be worked out at a later stage.

The basket includes: less spending on healthcare; increasing retirement age from 66 to 67; more VAT; and a two-year pay freeze for most civil servants. The opposition also shoehorned in higher taxes on alcohol, fossil fuels and sugary soft drinks.

The cuts are aimed at reducing the Dutch deficit to 3 percent next year in line with EU rules.

The 11th-hour deal comes ahead of a European Commission deadline for EU capitals to submit economic "convergence plans" to Brussels by Monday. It also comes after ratings agency Fitch said The Hague could lose its top-notch grade.

"Sticking to the 3 percent rule is not because that has been decided in Brussels but because we think it's important as we can't pass the bill on to future generations," Rutte told parliament.

"At the EU level, the absolute priority is restoring the stability of the eurozone. At the national level, the task is ... to lower private and public debt levels and to prepare for increases to government spending on healthcare and pensions as the population ages," the finance ministry said in a statement.

For her part, Groenlinks chief Jolande Sap warned the plan might unravel depending on who wins snap elections in September.

The opposition Labour party, Socialist party and the PVV faction are against the measures. "This is a bad package and people with a state pension will pay the bill," the PVV's populist leader, Geert Wilders, told MPs.

The triple-A ratings warning came after Rutte resigned on 23 April because Wilders said No to an even bigger austerity plan. The PVV was not a formal coalition partner, but Rutte had relied on its support to get bills through parliament.

"This is an unbelievable achievement," Rutte told MPs on Thursday, after clinching the new deal despite the political crisis.

Netherlands to beef up border surveillance

Heavily reliant on the anti-immigrant vote, the Dutch government plans to introduce an automatic video-surveillance system along its borders. Hague diplomats meanwhile are breaking ranks over what they see as the Netherlands' increasingly isolationist stance.

Dutch set to defy austerity as left takes poll lead

The left-wing Socialist party is expected to seize the largest gains in September's Dutch elections, threatening to deprive German Chancellor Angela Merkel of one of her closest allies in response to the eurozone debt crisis.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock

Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'
  2. Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill
  3. Turkish jets keep violating Greek airspace
  4. 'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes
  5. EU development policy needs a fresh start
  6. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  7. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  8. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us