Dutch socialist leader under fire for EU comments

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Politicians from across the Dutch political spectrum have fiercely criticised Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer for saying he would refuse to pay an eventual EU fine if the Netherlands did not comply with European budget rules.

Roemer’s Socialists are enjoying high ratings in opinion polls in the run up to elections on 12 September. The latest figures suggest they could become the largest party in parliament, giving Roemer the right to try and form a government.

Speaking to the Financieele Dagblad  on Thursday, the Socialist leader was damning of what he called Brussels' “obsession” with limiting the euro zone nations’ deficits. 

“It is idiotic ... to focus on a maximum deficit of 3% in 2013,” he said. “The government has to get the country working again. And then paying a ridiculous fine because the deficit is bigger than 3%! Over my dead body.’

'Rabid' comments

The VVD party of outgoing Prime Minster Mark Rutte described the comments as “unwise”. MP Mark Harbers said Roemer wanted to turn the Netherlands into a second Greece. The leader of the Christian Democrats accused Roemer of wanting to spend money that didn’t exist. 'He is blaming Europe and leaving our children with the bill,' said Sybrand van Haersma Buma. 

The opposition parties were also critical, The Labour party too opposes strict compliance with the EU 3 percent target, but leader Diedrik Samsom told  news agency ANP it was 'unwise to threaten to use vetoes or stop payments”. Democrats 66 leader Alexander Pechtold said the Socialists were going out on a limb and that a potential prime minister who made this kind of “rabid” statement could not be taken seriously.  

Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party is strongly anti-EU, reacted via Twitter, saying it was good not to pay any fines but “Why pay 7 billion in membership dues and billions more in development aid?”