Wednesday

28th Sep 2016

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.

Investigation

Diesel cars still dirty, despite huge EU loans

The European Investment Bank lent billions to carmakers, in part to clean up diesel cars. But diesel cars are still dirty, prompting questions if the money was well spent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  2. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  3. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  4. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  5. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  6. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  7. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  8. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  9. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  10. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  11. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  12. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations