Opposition parties say money for education crucial in new austerity round

Efforts by the cabinet to win the advance support of opposition parties D66 and GroenLinks for a new €6bn package of austerity measures have failed.

Ministers had hoped to get the backing of the two parties to ensure their plans pass through the upper house of parliament where the government does not have a majority.

But both parties want the government to increase spending on education as a condition for their support and ministers were not prepared to agree to this, the leaders of the two parties said after the talks ended. GroenLinks also wants more investment in the environment.

The ball now lies in the government’s court, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold is quoted as saying. ‘If they want to talk to us again before the budget in September, at least they know our demands.’

The government is due to decide formally on the need to implement an extra package of savings in August, but economic forecasts already show more cuts are inevitable. The new austerity drive is necessary to ensure the budget deficit drops below the eurozone limit of 3% next year.

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