Talks with Opposition Fail
THE HAGUE, 03/07/13 - The talks between the cabinet and the centre-left D66 and leftwing greens (GroenLinks) opposition parties on extra cutbacks have failed.
D66 and GroenLinks were invited by the cabinet to discuss reform proposals for education and children’s allowances on Friday. On Monday, the talks resumed. “The negotiations have been broken off," said D66 party leader Alexander Pechtold after the talks.
Both parties demanded investments in the environment and education as a condition for their backing for the extra savings package. The cabinet members present, including Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, were not prepared to make these investments, say Pechtold and GroenLinks leader Bam van Ojik.
The cabinet needs the support of opposition parties for 6 billion euros in new cutbacks because the Labour (PvdA) and conservative (VVD) governing parties have no majority in the Upper House. Pechtold says the ball is now in the cabinet’s court. “If they want to talk with us again before Princes Day (Budget Day), our conditions are in any case known.”
Van Ojik expressed disappointment. “There was not yet even a beginning of a prospect that we could seriously discuss sustainability,” he complained. “We certainly wanted to hit nails on the head, but this did not happen.”
Dijsselbloem said the cabinet ''in view of the budget problems, cannot now meet the expectations of D66 and GroenLinks''. He did refer to a constructive meeting, in which “we approached one another on many fronts.”
In exchange for its support, D66 wanted extra money for education, and GroenLinks had set its heart on 'greening' of the tax system. The cabinet however wanted to treat the plans in isolation as much as possible and allocate no extra money.
There now remain a number of other scenarios. The government can try again later to reach agreement with D66 and GroenLinks after all. It can also opt for a deal with the Christian democrats (CDA) or other opposition parties. Finally, the cabinet can put all its plans forward in the Senate without a deal and hope to get as much as possible through with changing majorities.