The Netherlands will be presented with a much higher bill by Brussels if the commission’s new budget plans are passed in their present form, Dutch media said on Wednesday.
The Netherlands currently pays some €7bn a year into the Brussels coffers, but that could rise to around €10m if the plans go through, experts say.
In total, the commission is set to propose that the budget should translate into 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income for the period 2021-2027, up from 1% at present.
Wednesday’s presentation is only a proposal which will still have to be approved by the European parliament and European leaders. Nevertheless, the plan marks the start of a lengthy and difficult political discussion.
The Netherlands, for example, wants Brussels to make major spending cuts to keep the budget increase down. Currently some 40% of the budget goes to agriculture and 35% to poorer EU regions in an effort to boost their economies.
The Netherlands is one of 11 countries which currently pay more into the EU coffers than they get out. The departure of Britain, also a net payer, will only add to the pressure on the budget.
Countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark currently get a rebate – in the case of the Netherlands, some €1bn a year. The commission has said it wants to scrap the rebates when Britain leaves, although according to the Financial Times, that proposal may have been softened.
EU commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is in charge of the budget, has been touring EU countries to gather support for the new spending package. Earlier this year he visited The Hague and was described at the time by Socialist MP Renske Leijten as ‘an old-fashioned eurocrat who came to tell us how the EU worked’.
The commission hopes to have completed the negotiations by the summer but sources in Brussels told broadcaser NOS that is unlikely to be reached.
In particular, net payers such as the Netherlands are in no hurry to complete the talks and next year, a new commission will be appointed, clearing the way for a change in strategy, NOS said.
Sources in Brussels have told website Politico that the commission will also propose cutting off EU funds to member countries that do not respect the rule of law, putting pressure on Poland and Hungary where democratic standards are under threat.
Any rise in the Dutch bill will only fan anti-EU sentiment in the Netherlands and today’s proposal was greeted by the Telegraaf with a headline reading ‘We have to bleed for the EU’.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation