Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has told parliament that the Netherlands cannot accept any attempt to water down conditions for the EU’s new budget and coronavirus recovery fund, despite the threatened veto by Hungary and Poland.
The compromise deal is already the ‘lower limit’ for the Dutch and the conditions cannot be made weaker to appease the Hungarians and Poles. ‘This is crucial,’ Rutte told MPs during Tuesday’s parliamentary debate.
Another option, described by the Dutch PM as the ‘nuclear’ approach, would be to limit the budget and recovery fund to the 25 other member states. However, he said, this would turn the EU into an ‘intergovernmental union without commission and parliament.’
In addition, the issue is currently not up to the Netherlands but up to Germany which chairs the EU at the moment, the European parliament and the commission, he said.
During the debate far right MP Geert Wilders said Rutte did not have half the guts of Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban.
Rutte replied by asking Wilders if he should follow Orban’s example. ‘Should I limit gay rights, limit freedom of the press in the Netherlands and limit the rights of smaller parties to participate in elections,’ he said. ‘I am glad I am not like him, terrible.’
EU members have urged Hungary and Poland to lift their blockade of the agreement, but the two countries have so far resisted appeals for a change of position. They argue that making the budget and aid package conditional on recipient countries following the rule of law target them on an ideological and political basis.
The issue is expected to be raised at a video conference on Thursday but the next face to face meeting of EU leaders is scheduled for December, EU Observer reported.
Some Dutch MEPs have also called for a tougher line on the two countries. ‘We have been busy trying to keep Poland and Hungary on the right track for 10 years but they keep dodging our efforts,’ PvdA MEP Kati Piri said. Piri is deputy leader of the social democratic grouping in the European parliament.
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