New cabinet policy leaks out

More spending on problem neighbourhoods and the environment as well as an amnesty for long-term asylum seekers are set to be central in the new government’s strategy, according to most Dutch papers. The draft coalition accord was finalised at the end of last week and a number of policies have been leaked.

The Christian Democrats, Labour (PvdA) and ChristenUnie are expected to present their plans to MPs today and tomorrow.
The Volkskrant reports that the new cabinet has drawn up an ambitious programme to renovate deprived areas and improve the environment. Many of the plans will be put into practise in the form of covenants, the paper says. For example, the cabinet hopes to seal a covenant with the housing corporations to ensure greater investment in social housing and run-down estates.
On Friday evening it emerged that the new cabinet plans to introduce an amnesty (general pardon) for long-term asylum seekers. The amnesty will apply to people who applied for asylum before April 1, 2001, when tougher legislation was introduced.
It is not clear how many people will benefit from the amnesty. Originally, some 26,000 people who arrived before April 2001 were set to be deported. Of those, 16,000 cases have not yet been dealt with. But thousands of others are thought to have gone underground rather than face deportation.
According to the Volkskrant, the main points of the coalition accord include:
* ‘Many hundreds of millions of euros’ to improve run-down neighbourhoods
* €800m for environmental issues, energy saving target of 2%
* Extra tax on airline tickets
* €700m to help people on invalidity benefit (WAO) back to work
* Return of subsidised jobs for long-term unemployed
* €1bn extra for education, drop out rate to be halved
* Cuts in civil service jobs to save €750m
* Budget surplus to reach 1% by 2011
* Economic growth forecast at 2%
* Wealthy early retirees to contributed to state pension premiums
* Bonus for people who stay in work to 65
* No change to mortgage tax relief
* Social housing rents to increase in line with inflation
* Amnesty for asylum seekers who arrived before 2001
* Dental check ups and birth control pill back in basic health insurance package
* €750m for pre-school child care, créches will not be free
* Euthansia, abortion and stemcell research laws unchanged, but with more focus on prevention
The new free newspaper De Pers reports that the no-claim rule on health insurance is also set to be scrapped.
The new cabinet will include three upgraded ministerial posts reposonsible for: the environment, housing and integration and youth and family affairs.
The CDA will have eight ministers in the new cabinet, the PvdA six and ChristenUnie, two.

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