It’s a deal: five party coalition finalises Dutch austerity package (update)

The minority coalition and three other parties have finalised their plans to cut the Dutch budget deficit to below 3%.

‘We’ve done it,’ finance minister Jan Kees de Jager told reporters after Tuesday night’s talks. ‘It was a team performance.’ The five parties had put the needs of the country before their own, he said.
The deal includes €12bn worth of cuts and tax increases, plus €1bn in extra spending.
Details have not been made public, but the measures are known to include a rise in value-added tax to 21%, limits to mortgage tax relief, cuts in health service spending and a new state pension age of 66 by 2019.
According to Nos television, the own risk element in health insurance will rise from €220 a year to €350.
The package will now be sent to the macro-economic forecasting agency CPB which will assess the impact on the government’s finances.
The three minor parties – the D66 Liberals, green party GroenLinks and ChristenUnie – stepped in to fill the breach after Geert Wilders and the PVV pulled out of the talks.
Prime minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday told reporters claims that spending power would be reduced by at least 6% because of the cuts are wrong. However, he declined to go into further details about the package of measures.
Labour’s finance spokesman Ronald Plasterk accused the five parties of not being ‘transparent’ enough about their plans. In addition, not knowing the details is making impossible for other parties to draw up their election campaigns, he said.

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