Brussels or The Hague? Van der Plas and Timmermans to meet

A BBB placard in an Overijssel farmyard. Photo:
A BBB placard in an Overijssel farmyard. Photo:

Euro commissioner and Green Deal advocate Frans Timmermans has said he would welcome a talk with BBB leader Caroline van der Plas about the Dutch nitrogen restrictions and farmer buyouts but whether it will be at ‘his place or hers’ is not yet clear.

BBB was the big winner in last week’s provincial elections and has made changing the government’s plans to cut nitrogen based pollution a key issue.

‘I understand Mrs van der Plas would like to travel to Brussels, and she is more than welcome. We shall do exactly the same thing we have been doing when civil servants come to us, that is, explain what the European rules are,’ Timmermans told broadcaster NOS.

Van der Plas, however, has said she’d rather Timmermans came to her.  ‘There must be a misunderstanding,’ she said on Twitter. ‘I can’t go to Brussels for a whole day. My work is here.’

Van der Plas had said she wanted Timmermans to explain what the European Commission proposes to do about the ‘nitrogen lockdown’ following leaked news about Brussels’ preference for forced buyouts. The Dutch agriculture ministry views compulsory closures as a last resort.

‘I find it very odd that this sort of advice is being given,’ Van der Plas said. The commission has said buyouts, forced or otherwise, are a decision for member states themselves.

‘Forced buyouts are difficult for people to stomach. The ministries are saying: Brussels tells us to do this and now it’s different again,’ Van der Plas complained, saying she wanted ‘a straight answer’ from Timmermans.

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