Talks between the minority cabinet and anti-immigration PVV on how to cut government spending by €9bn were halted early on Wednesday and are ‘going through a difficult phase’, the state information service said.
‘The talks ended earlier today. The negotiations are going through a difficult phase. They will be resumed at 10.00 hours tomorrow morning,’ the RVD statement said.
News websites immediately began speculating about the reasons for the statement, which comes just a day after the prime minister again refused to comment on progress.
NRC reporter Freek Staps said the decision to release this statement could be strategic – in order to put pressure on each other, and especially PVV leader Geert Wilders – or it could mean there is a fundamental difference of opinion.
Sources have told the paper the PVV has been reluctant to make any concessions on economic reform and that the negotiators are now to discuss the stalemate with other party strategists.
The Volkskrant says the decision to issue the statement is noteworthy because all three parties had agreed not to talk about how the talks are progressing, a point which prime minister Mark Rutte has repeated several times since then, including yesterday.
Nos television says sources have told it Wilders wants to pull out of the negotiations and has been asked by the others to sleep on it overnight. In particular, Wilders is unhappy at the pressure on him to cut unemployment benefit and increase healthcare fees, Nos said.
The three parties have to come up with a package of measures to reduce the budget deficit below the EU monetary union limit of 3%.
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