Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Wilders report: Dutch families would be €10,000 better off out of EU

  • Dutch shopping street: Leaving the EU would be 'very unwise,' Dijsselbloem said (Photo: zoetnet)

Leaving the European Union would boost the Dutch economy by between 10 and 13 percent, and be worth nearly €10,000 per household, according to a report commissioned by Geert Wilders' Freedom party.

The study, published on Thursday (6 February) by London-based consultancy Capital Economics, says the Netherlands would between €1 trillion and €1.5 trillion better off by 2035 if it were to leave the EU in 2015, depending on whether the bloc's crisis countries require further financial support in the coming years.

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The 164-page survey adds that membership of the euro is holding back the flatlining Dutch economy and estimates that leaving the bloc could save Dutch businesses €20 billion each year and beef up the country's public finances by up to €240 billion over 20 years by staying out of EU spending programmes.

Meanwhile, using an EU exit to re-write its immigration laws would reduce public spending by a further €7.5 billion. It also argues that the Netherlands should be able to secure a Swiss-style free trade relationship with the rest of the EU.

"It is completely possible that the Netherlands could negotiate a Swiss or Norwegian style arrangement with the EU whereby it resins the benefits of the single market, but is free to negotiate at will with countries beyond," it notes.

"Our analysis shows that the Netherlands would be better off taking control of its own destiny, rather than sticking the 'devil it knows'," the paper concludes, adding that leaving the bloc would "provide an opportunity for the Netherlands to see rates of growth in prosperity that have looked otherwise consigned to distant history," it says.

Although the report warns that leaving the EU and going back to the guilder could lead to short-term volatility and a possible a downgrade to the country's credit rating, it states that any costs would be "modest and manageable."

The report's findings were immediately leapt upon by Wilders.

“Leaving the EU or Nexit will not only restore our national sovereignty but it will also boost the Dutch economy now and in the future,” he said at a press conference in The Hague also on Thursday.

"I cannot explain to any voters in the Netherlands that we have to raise taxes, cut health care for the elderly, for example, but that we send billions of euros to the Southern European countries," he added.

The idea was swiftly dismissed by Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, however.

Leaving the EU "would be very, very unwise for the Dutch economy and business," said the minister, who chairs the monthly eurogroup meetings of eurozone finance chiefs. "We earn the bulk of our wealth in trade with EU countries so Netherlands has lots of interest in an internal market with easy trade," he added.

An estimated 70 percent of Dutch trade is with the rest of the EU, according to the Capital Economics report.

Surveys suggest that Wilders' party will top the poll at May's European elections and retain the five MEP seats it took in 2009, one of a string of eurosceptic parties expect to perform strongly.

Both Britain's UK Independence Party (Ukip) and France's National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen will campaign alongside Wilders, are tipped to defeat at least one of the major parties in their respective countries.

But most Dutch voters oppose Wilders' proposals to scrap the euro and leave the EU.

Capital Economics has become a household name in political circles after it won the £250,000 Wolfson prize in 2012 for its paper on how best to manage the break up the eurozone.

The firm's managing director, Roger Bootle, has also been a regular speaker at conferences organised by Ukip, which campaigns for the UK to leave the EU.

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