Thursday

29th Jun 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU mulls post-Brexit budget options

EU seeks novel ways to plug a Brexit-based budget hole of up to €11 billion, but income from fines, such as the one on Google, cannot be relied on.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  2. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  4. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  5. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  7. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  8. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  9. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  10. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  11. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  12. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!