Dutch coalition negotiations: ‘compromise reached on ethical issues’

The four parties currently working on forming a new coalition Dutch government  appear to have reached a deal on controversial ethical issues, the AD and Telegraaf said on Tuesday.

In particular the four –  Liberal parties D66 and VVD and Christian parties CDA and ChristenUnie – have agreed not to press on with calls for changes in the euthanasia law which would allow the very frail elderly to end their lives if they feel they are complete, the AD said.

D66 is very much in favour of such legislation, but has now agreed to commission extra research into the plan, the AD said. This would involve assessing ‘if and in what circumstances’ the current legislation is inadequate, the paper, which has seen the draft document, says.

The new plan would also involve facilitating a broad discussion in society about the issues. The AD points out that there is no majority in favour of D66’s plan in parliament.

A second controversial issue is that of increasing research using human embryos, which is also opposed by the ChristenUnie.

In the compromise deal, there will be more scope for choosing embryos based on sex to reduce the risk of very rare but serious inherited diseases. There will also be more scope for stem-cell research on inherited illness which will enable the Netherlands to play a ‘leading roll’ in this field, the AD quotes the document as saying.

Organ donation

The Telegraaf also claims that the four parties have agreed to take no action on a D66 motion which would change the current organ donor register from opt-in to opt-out.

That bill was narrowly passed in the lower house of parliament and is now before the senate. The Telegraaf says the four parties have agreed not to include organ donation in their agreement and that the ChristenUnie has agreed its members will try to stop the bill if it is approved in the senate later this year.

Meanwhile, parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib has called on the four parties to speed up the talks. Last week, Gerrit Zalm, who is leading the negotiations, told reporters he hoped to have finished the process of forming a new government in October.

The Netherlands has been without a formal government since the general election on March 15.

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