Cutback talks: no outcome till next week

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Negotiations on a fresh round of government budget cuts aren’t expected to produce a result before the end of next week.

The ruling parties may reach an agreement this week, according to government sources, but the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis then has to calculate the effects of the cutback plan. This is expected to take around five days.

On Wednesday the negotiators met again at the prime minister’s official residence, Catshuis, for a day of talks. The “final phase” is now underway, sources say, and the toughest compromises are being hammered out. Once this has happened, an agreement may not be far away.

The negotiations are between the senior coalition partner, the conservative VVD party, the junior coalition partner, the centre-right Christian Democrats, and the party on which the government officially relies to make up its majority in parliament, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party.

The three parties are wrestling to cut billions of euros to bring the government budget deficit back below the European Union limit of three percent of GNP in 2013. This requires a cutback package of between 10 and 16 billion euros, depending on the effects of the cuts.

The populist Freedom Party has vowed to fight attempts to save money on social welfare, pensions and mortgage tax relief, and has demanded that the axe should fall hardest on development cooperation and public broadcasting. The Christian Democrats oppose cuts to development cooperation, but have already made concessions. The Freedom Party is pushing for more action on its core issue, restricting immigration, in return for any compromises.


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