New coalition emerges as talks begin on cutting Dutch deficit

Three political parties have begun joint talks with finance minister Jan Kees de Jager on cutting government spending by up to €14bn, various newspapers report on Wednesday afternoon.

The D66 Liberal democrats, left-wing greens GroenLinks and small Christian party ChristenUnie have formed a united front to support reforms and cuts in an effort to reduce the budget deficit to below 3%, in line with eurozone rules, the papers say.
The coalition alliance collapsed at the weekend after the anti-immigration party PVV pulled out of the negotiations. But De Jager must submit an economic plan to Brussels by the end of the month.
Culture cuts
According to the Volkskrant, the three parties want a number of current pieces of legislation dropped including cuts in spending on the arts and culture, special needs education and personal care budgets.
In return, they are prepared to back changes to the tax break on mortgages, a earlier rise in the state pension age and redundancy law reform.
De Jager told reporters after the meeting: ‘I met these three parties for logical and practical reasons. I have not been negotiating.’
De Jager is due to meet Labour leader Diederik Samsom later on Wednesday to sound out his views on the economy. Parliament is due to debate the government’s financial plans on Thursday.
Prime minister Mark Rutte made an urgent appeal to MPs on Tuesday to work together to help the Netherlands through the economic crisis. Yet although a large number of the 11 parties in parliament say they are willing to try to put together a 2013 budget, there are a multitude of divisions between them.
‘I have heard a lot of good intentions but nothing concrete,’ Stef Blok, who leads the VVD in parliament, said.
In addition, Groenlinks, the Socialists, Labour and Geert Wilders anti-immigration PVV say they do not believe in the need to meet Brussel’s budget deficit targets next year. Together, they form a majority in parliament.

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