For the first time in years, two of the biggest Dutch newspapers have not blasted the budget all over their front pages – reflecting, perhaps, the lack of new initiatives.
NRC.next’s front page is a photograph of Marco van Basten, who has voluntarily stood down as head coach at AZ because of stress. ‘His gesture is one that top managers could learn from,’ the paper states.
The Volkskrant opens with the situation in Ukraine, which may be appropriate given the focus on international events in the king’s speech. Inside, the paper describes that speech as a ‘profit warning’. The caution the government is exercising makes it vulnerable to claims that it has run out of steam, the paper says.
‘The cabinet is turning down the music even though, given other circumstances, it could have been quite a party,’ analyst Raoul du Pre stated.
Trouw’s headline is ‘A fragile recovery in a hostile world’. ‘The Netherlands is doing alright, the world less so. The two are connected. As the king said in his speech: ‘Everything that happens in the world today impacts on everything else’. So now that the economy is rallying, Rutte is very careful not to make too much of it. After all, the recovery could be over in a flash,’ the paper writes.
The official document on the economy even contains a first chapter dedicated to the consequences of a massive Russian invasion of Ukraine which would spell a 20% fall in exports, Trouw writes.
The Netherlands should prepare itself for a changing world, according to finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, and that is why the Netherlands ‘with unwonted enthusiasm’ is spending money on an ‘active foreign policy and the promotion of the international rule of law as an article in the constitution.’
The Financieele Dagblad has a cartoon showing Rutte and Samsom watering a very tentative green shoot. ‘Tax system to be reformed in the long term’ is its headline.
Junior finance minister Eric Wiebes’ plans to lower the tax on labour thus creating 100,000 new jobs has a serious flaw, writes the FD, because the money to finance it would have to come from ‘windfalls caused by a continuing recovery’.
The plans so far – raising VAT for some products and services, a higher tax on pollution and an extended tax catchment area for local councils – have already been shot down by tax experts, the paper points out. They think the plans are ‘not ambitious enough’ and will only have an effect in three or four years at the most.
What did not happen is Samsom’s ‘fairer wealth tax’. ‘The VVD wins,’ the FD concludes.
The Telegraaf in its editorial writes ‘The cabinet has made one thing clear on budget day, that a veil of uncertainty hangs over the country. There are conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq, Israel and Syria and the hatred and feelings of insecurity are emerging in this country, too. This makes it sensible not to jump in to all sorts of new financial ventures.’
The economy is performing better after a string of tough reforms and that is why the cabinet, despite the uncertainties, could project more confidence and offer more perspectives, the paper goes on.
The ambitious plan to create 100,000 new jobs is a 10-year plan, the paper points out. People are looking for more, for better times. ‘What politicians can and should be offering is hope,’ the paper said.
However, Telegraaf analyst Mart Visser thinks pointing to the events taking place on the world stage is ‘too easy’. Rutte should look closer to home, he says.
Important partners like France and Italy are not doing well and ‘it is clear that countries that don’t reform won’t see a recovery. Rutte could influence this state of affairs indirectly. Brussels is urging reform. But what is the use if we – and Rutte himself is a case in point – won’t accept a forceful economic policy from Brussels.’
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