Saturday 06 June 2020

Dutch government must show more solidarity with hard-hit EU countries: SER

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Netherlands must show solidarity with the EU member countries which have been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis in its own interest and make haste with investment, government policy advisory group SER has said in a report out on Thursday.

Instead of a strict system of loans subject to conditions and reforms, the government should show more leniency and aim for ‘a responsible form of risk sharing’, SER’s Coronacrisis think-tank said.

The think-tank, which includes unions, employers, advisory bodies CPB and SCP and Dutch bank DNB and was set up in March, ‘deviates from the government line’, chairwoman Mariëtte Hamer told the FD.

It is in the Dutch interest to makes sure the southern European countries in particular do not drown in debt and find their way out of the crisis as soon as possible, Hamer said.

‘Our call to the government is to cooperate with other member states.(..) If there is a criticism it is this. Include the other countries in the journey out of this crisis or you will suffer yourself. Europe is an economic family, so work together where you can.’

The think-tank’s advice echoes the stance of the leader of coalition partner D66 Rob Jetten earlier this week. Jetten criticised what he considers the implacable Dutch attitude to other EU members and made a plea to break open the government accord to allow for further integration.

An accord must be reached quickly on a European budget for 2021 to 2027, Hamer said, which could possibly include the adoption of the recent German-French proposal to make an extra €500bn in bail out funds available.

Alternative

The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Finland opposed the plan because of a lack of guarantees of reform in the countries concerned. An alternative plan is being worked on by the four which will be presented by the European Commission next week, the FD said.

The think tanks supports economic minister Wopke Hoekstra’s move towards ‘anti-cyclical’ investment. The Netherlands must invest itself out of the crisis, Hamer said, and planned investments must be brought forward so the financial sector and the housing market remain unaffected.

The government must make haste to establish a fund worth billions to spend on innovation, infrastructure and education. ‘The Netherlands must be steadfast in carrying out its agenda for growth,’ Hamer said.

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