Cabinet Prepared to Revise Social Accord
THE HAGUE, 27/09/13 - Premier Mark Rutte is prepared to carry out more reform than agreed. But he fears that the unions will not want to cooperate, he said in the Lower House Thursday.
Under the so-called social accord with the union movement and employer organisations, the cabinet last spring diluted plans its own plans for reforms. The Christian democrats (CDA), centre-left D66 and small Christian party ChristenUnie want the government to go back to its original ambitions.
The opposition parties are among other things demanding a speedier introduction of the relaxation of dismissal law and a shorter period for unemployment benefit (WW). They also want the cabinet to not raise taxes in 2014.
The coalition of conservatives (VVD) and Labour (PvdA) has no majority in the Senate. Rutte therefore said that the cabinet is prepared to enter into talks with the union movement and employers on a major adaptation of the social accord. But he considers the chances of them agreeing to a faster introduction of more flexible dismissal law and a shorter WW “limited, perhaps very limited."
D66 leader Alexander Pechtold criticised the importance that Rutte is giving to the unions.” Who actually governs here? The politicians or the debating groups.”
Pechtold said the European Commission will be accommodating to the Netherlands if it carries out less supplementary cutbacks than the 6 billion euros that the cabinet has proposed, and at the same time carries out more structural reforms which will strengthen the economy in the long term. But Rutte said there is a strong chance that the Netherlands would be fined if it dropped the 6 billion target.
However, Rutte is open to alternative savings proposals from the opposition. On Wednesday, VVD parliamentary leader Halbe Zijlstra also said this. PvdA leader Diederik Samsom expressed less flexibility at the time.
Only the CDA is big enough in the Senate to help the coalition achieve a majority. If this fails, D66 could help out in combination with GroenLinks or the two small Christian parties.
Rutte does not want to conclude 'a la carte' accords with a number of parties. He would prefer a single, all-embracing accord. CDA and D66 are also trying not to play each other off via subsidiary accords.
The Party for Freedom (PVV), Socialist Party (SP), Party for Animals and 50PLUS are not an option. They want the government to resign and fresh elections to be held.
Rutte is prepared to look at the tax pressure on middle incomes. These will be much too hard-hit, according to CDA and D66. The premier did not however want to be specific yet.
Deals have however been made already on a number of small dossiers. For example, the cabinet is favourably disposed towards keeping the army barracks in Assen open after all, investments in childcare and the softening of cutbacks on the AIVD intelligence service.