Cabinet publishes spending concessions, opposition disappointed

The cabinet has published a list of some 30 concessions and suggestions it is prepared to make to opposition parties in an effort to win support for its 2014 spending plans in the senate.

Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the six opposition parties involved in the talks he is prepared to meet some of their demands as long as the financial implications are covered.

This means, for example, the cabinet is willing to scrap its plan to put up taxes on petrol as long as the opposition parties accept another idea which will generate the same €300m a year.


Suggestions on the list, which is in the hands of the Volkskrant, include partially relaxing the freeze on tax banks, keeping the lower value added tax rate on building and renovation, delaying the cut in the general tax break until 2018 and giving more subsidies to employers who take on older or young workers and people with a disability.

Among the counter measures to offset the extra costs are higher new car taxes, the reintroduction of a tax on flying, doubling the tax on mains water and introducing a €25 fee for visiting a family doctor or hospital accident and emergency department.

The initial reaction of the bigger opposition parties, who hold the key to giving the government a majority in the upper house of parliament, was of disappointment.


‘I’m not happy with what is on the table,’ Eddy van Hijum of the Christian Democrats said. ‘We made serious proposals but there would appear to be little room for manoeuver. This is a disappointing package.’

The CDA and Liberal democrats D66 also said they missed any move towards speeding up reforms of the redundancy system and jobs market. ‘This is just moving a few hundred million euros around and that is not enough,’ the party was quoted as saying. ‘This is not a structural approach.’

Dijsselbloem will meet opposition party leaders on Wednesday to discuss the proposals.

In a reaction, the minister said he understood the opposition parties’ concerns. ‘What is on the table is serious and involves large sums of money but there is certainly room to talk further,’ he said.

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