The Netherlands initiates a turnaround on the European Recovery Fund

Dutch liberal leader Mark Rutte, pillar of the “tight-fisted” camp, is under contradictory pressure from his Europhobic opponents and his pro-European allies.

There was like a small change in the air, Wednesday, in the Second Chamber of The Hague where, according to custom, the Dutch deputies debated the European summit of heads of state and government on Friday, June 19. Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the parties of his majority have effectively started a turnaround: they now deem necessary a common European effort to counter the disastrous economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 6,000 people in the region.

Gathered by videoconference, the leaders of the Union were, on Friday, to try to move forward on two crucial subjects in the eyes of the Dutch and the “frugal”, this group which also brings together Austria, the Denmark and Sweden. First, the 750 billion stimulus fund proposed by the Brussels Commission and deemed too generous by the “tight-fisted” (the other name for this four-party coalition) because it would include two-thirds of subsidies allocated to states in particular. hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and only a third of repayable loans. This is too generous, we judge in The Hague.

Second theme: the draft budget 2021-2027, blocked last February, after thirty hours of negotiations. To mark his refusal of a Dutch contribution exceeding 1% of his national income, Mr. Rutte had arrived in Brussels at the time with, under his arm, a biography which, he said, he intended to complete during discussions.

Since then, the pandemic has hit all of Europe and the Dutch, generally aligned with the German austerity policy, felt orphaned when Angela Merkel proposed, with Emmanuel Macron, a recovery plan to 500 billion, with direct aid to countries and the creation of a common debt. “The declaration of Wolfgang Schäuble, the former finance minister and austerity pope, now advocating solidarity with the countries of the South, in the interest of Germany as well, was a shock for the government “, indicates a ministerial adviser.

“An exceptional effort”

The argument has, in any case, been taken up by the parties which support the coalition of Mr. Rutte . Deputy Anne Mulder, member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), estimated Wednesday that a lack of solidarity would be “not in the interest of Southern Europe, nor of the Union nor from the Netherlands ”. Pieter Omtzigt, on behalf of the Christian Democrat Appeal (CDA), advocated “an exceptional effort” and considered “untenable” the government’s position on the budget of the ‘Union.