Dutch austerity talks hit roadblock
THE HAGUE TALKS to slash billions of euros in Dutch government spending to bring the deficit back within European Union limits hit a “difficult phase” on Wednesday and were halted for the day, authorities said.
The announcement, made in a brief statement by the Government Information Service, gave no further details of the impasse. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his fellow negotiators have refused to divulge information about the contents of the austerity package they are discussing, because of the sensitivity of the talks.
Negotiations were scheduled to resume on Thursday at Rutte’s official mansion in a leafy Hague neighbourhood.
Rutte, leader of the free-market VVD party, is in talks with Maxime Verhagen of the Christian Democrats and Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islam Freedom Party is not in government but supports the minority coalition on key votes.
The government is expected to post a 4.6 percent budget deficit this year, well over the 3 percent maximum deficit allowed under EU rules.
Rutte came to power in 2010 pledging to slash spending by €18 billion and now has to cut at least €9 billion ($12 billion) more.
The Netherlands is a fierce critic of reckless spending by other EU nations, notably Greece, and prides itself in its own financial rectitude.