Companies Willing to Contribute to Costs of Consulates
THE HAGUE, 09/10/13 - A majority in the Lower House wants to give business time to investigate how it can contribute to keeping five consulates-general scheduled for closure open after all.
Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wants to close the consulates-general in Munich, Milan, Antwerp, Osaka and Chicago as part of his reform of the diplomatic service. This is necessary because he has to make savings of 100 million euros in this cabinet period, including 40 million on the network of diplomatic posts.
Employer organisation VNO-NCW chairman Bernard Wientjes made an “urgent call” to parliament at a hearing in the Lower House to reverse the measure. He said business is prepared to contribute to the costs of keeping these posts open. “Let us see how we can do it together,” he said.
Wientjes asked for "a couple of months” to come up with solutions. He declined to specify a concrete amount. If companies contribute, there must be an end to closure of posts, he added. “We do not want to be confronted with this again next year.”
Conservative (VVD) MP Han ten Broeke spoke of a “sensible gesture” from the employers. Labour (PvdA) MP Michiel Servaes also considers it “important to look at the offer.”
There was also criticism during the hearings from former Foreign Minister Ben Bot of the planned closure of posts. In his view, this amounts to being 'penny wise and pound foolish'. He sees nothing good in the idea of replacing the consulates by NBSOs, economic support points for companies. “An embassy or consulate-general continues to work miracles; this a NBSO cannot do,” Bot declared.