Wednesday

11th Dec 2019

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. 30-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.

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.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  2. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  3. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  4. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  5. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  6. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  7. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  8. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown

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.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row
  2. Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock
  3. EU alarmed by prospects of battle for Tripoli
  4. EU must manage climate and industry together
  5. Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?
  6. Green Deal targets pit Left against Right in parliament
  7. Human rights abusers to face future EU blacklists
  8. Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us