Friday 19 August 2022

Election: Socialist leader under fire for ‘ridiculous EU fine comments’

Politicians from across the political spectrum on Thursday slammed Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer for saying he would refuse to pay an eventual fine if the Netherlands did not meet EU budget targets.

Roemer, currently riding high in the opinion polls ahead of the September general election, criticised the EU’s obsession with a maximum budget deficit of 3% in an interview with the Financieele Dagblad.
‘It is idiotic … to focus on a maximum deficit of 3% in 2013,’ Roemer told the paper. ‘The government has to get the country working again. And then I’d have to pay a ridiculous fine because the deficit is bigger than 3%. Over my dead body.’
Diederick Samsom, leader of the Labour party and a likely partner in an SP-led coalition, said Roemer’s comments were ‘unwise’. While Labour also opposes strict adherence to the Brussels 3% target, it is ‘unwise to threaten to use vetos or stop payments,’ Samsom is quoted as saying by news agency ANP.
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, also a potential coalition partner, said such a position put the SP out on a limb. One cannot ‘take a potential prime minister who comes out with this sort of rabid standpoint seriously’, Pechtold said.
Christian Democrat leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma said Roemer would spend money that does not exist. ‘He is blaming Europe and leaving our children with the bill,’ Van Haersma Buma is quoted as saying by the NRC.
VVD MP Mark Harbers used microblogging service Twitter to say Roemer wanted to turn the Netherlands into the new Greece.
Recent opinion polls indicate the SP may be stretching its lead over the VVD with just under a month to go before the general election.
An opinion poll by television current affairs show EenVandaag on Wednesday evening put Roemer’s group on target to win 39 out of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament. The right-wing VVD trails Roemer in that poll by eight seats.
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