Wednesday 30 November 2022

The new government’s plans: what you need to know

More affordable housing will be built. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The new coalition accord, entitled Omzien naar elkaar, vooruitkijken naar de toekomst (looking after each other, looking forward to the future) is 50 pages long. Here are the main points:

Climate and the environment

  • There will be a new minister for climate and energy
  • €35bn has been earmarked for combating climate change over the next 10 years
  • The Netherlands’ only nuclear power station, Borssele, will remain open longer and work will start on building two new nuclear power stations
  • Local communities will be given a financial interest in onshore wind farms in their locality
  • The use of wood-based biomass will be phased out
  • Farmers in environmentally sensitive areas will not be bought out via compulsory purchase orders
  • No more permits for natural gas extraction in the Wadden Sea
  • New restrictions will be introduced on the building of massive data centres and permits will be awarded by national government, not local councils
  • More leeway for carbon capture to help meet environmental targets
  • More effort to encourage better insulation of private homes

Housing

  • There will be a special minister for housing and spatial planning
  • 100,000 new homes a year will be built, of which two-thirds must be classed as affordable
  • The special tax paid by housing corporations on their rental income will be phased out
  • Some €7.5bn has been earmarked to boost roads and public transport services to new residential areas
  • The €100,000 tax free gift parents can give their children to buy a house will be scrapped
  • The agreement made no mention of further reductions in mortgage tax relief

Health

  • The coalition is considering establishing the post of Chief Medical Officer
  • Working in healthcare should be made more attractive – but this will be largely up to employers
  • The number of IC beds is to be increased and more will be done to deal with future pandemics
  • Value added take on sugary drinks will go up, as will tobacco tax
  • The new government will look at the establishment of a tax on sugar
  • The government aims to cut value added tax on fruit and vegetables to zero but does not yet know if that is a serious option
  • Efforts will be made to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies so contraception will be free and easily accessible for ‘vulnerable groups’
  • MPs will be given a free choice in parliament to decide on issues such as abortion, embryo research and end of life care
  • The cost analysis provided with the agreement indicated spending on healthcare will go down by a structural €4.8bn

Education

  • Good citizenship will be taught at all schools, by experienced teachers
  • Student grants will be brought back from 2023 and €1bn has been set aside to fund compensation for students who had to borrow
  • Primary school teacher salaries will be raised to the level of secondary school teachers
  • If current measures to control the number of (international) students do not work, new measures may be introduced

Work and taxes

  • The minimum wage will rise to almost €11 in stages. This 7.5% increase is well below the €4 increase which opposition parties and unions had hoped for
  • Social security benefits will rise in line with the minimum wage, apart from state pensions.
  • Childcare benefits will be phased out for everyone in work and parents will have to pay a 5% fee
  • Measures to reduce the amount of ‘flexible’ jobs, as worked out by unions and employers in June, will be largely adopted
  • A disability insurance system will be developed for all freelancers and the self employed
  • The self-employed tax break will be reduced still further to €1,200 by 2030
  • Agreements will be made with employers to encourage working from home to reduce traffic congestion
  • The fictitious tax on savings will be phased out in 2025 and replaced by a tax on actual assets

Law and order

  • Major focus on combating organized crime and stopping youngsters becoming involved in crime
  • The regulated marijuana experiment will go ahead
  • A government commission will look at the pros and cons of the medicinal use of MDMA
  • The maximum sentence for membership of a terrorist organisation will go up to 20 years in jail
  • The legal position of sex workers with regards to insurance, business bank accounts and other financial services will be strengthened
  • Legislation to regulate sex work – which includes a sex workers register – will become law

Immigration and asylum

  • Refugees considered to have a good chance of making a successful claim will get Dutch language lessons immediately
  • The Netherlands will work to encourage the development of a common EU refugee policy
  • The Netherlands will house an extra 500 vulnerable refugees a year, increasing in time to 900
  • The new cabinet is making no commitments to allow non-Dutch nationals who naturalise to retain their original nationality. However the agreement states that ‘we will revise the way Dutch people with multiple nationalities who live outside the EU automatically lose their Dutch citizenship after 10 years’
  • The cabinet is committed to implementing the Roemer commission recommendations on labour migration to stop the exploitation of workers coming to the Netherlands to work in seasonal or temporary jobs
  • Turkish nationals will also have to go though the formal integration process

Mobility

  • Road pricing will be introduced in 2030, so motorists pay for each kilometre they drive
  • The Lelylijn railway link between Lelystad and Groningen will be built to strengthen international and regional links
  • The tax on air tickets will be increased
  • The Netherlands will support EU-wide efforts to introduce a tax on kerosine
  • More will be done to reduce pollution associated with aviation
  • The government will decide next year whether or not to open Lelystad airport to commercial aviation

Arts and culture

  • €170m a year will be invested in arts and culture
  • The state will contribute to the establishment of a national history and a slavery museum

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