Saturday 26 September 2020

Dutch prime minister begins campaign to freeze EU contributions

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is meeting other EU leaders in Brussels this weekend to discuss the community’s long-term budget, among other issues.

Rutte has said he does not want the Dutch contribution to the EU to increase, despite the European Commission’s call for higher spending on climate change and border controls, and the gap left by Britain after Brexit.

Like the Netherlands, Britain is a net payer into the EU’s coffers and will leave a large hole when it pulls out. The Commission wants to fill the gap through a combination of spending cuts and higher contributions, something which the Dutch strongly oppose.

Despite Rutte’s call for no extra spending, experts say increased contributions from the Netherlands will be unavoidable.

‘It is very simple. Britain is leaving and that will leave a big whole in the budget,’ Rob Boudewijn of consultancy European Affairs told the FD. ‘That gap has to be filled and of course we are going to have to pay more.’

Rutte told reporters on Friday morning he will ‘do his best’ to make sure the Dutch bill does not become bigger.

Denmark, Finland and Sweden, and possibly Austria, are known to support the Dutch position on keeping Brussels budget in check.

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