Ex-minister: Dutch defence cuts unconstitutional

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Major cutbacks on defence spending would be at odds with the constitution, according to former finance minister Gerrit Zalm.

The former conservative VVD politician chaired an enquiry on the future international role of the Dutch armed forces, which presented its findings on Monday. The study is intended to form a basis for the Netherlands’ long-term defence policy.

Mr Zalm concludes that serious defence cuts would prevent the armed forces from carrying out their constitutional task of maintaining the rule of international law. Mr Zalm argues that little should change in the present nature of the Dutch armed forces. The military should stay ready for deployment in a wide range of situations, both for national defence and for overseas peacekeeping operations.

According to a survey by TNS NIPO published by de Volkskrant on Monday, supporters of the Labour Party, Green Left and the liberal D66 party see defence as a prime area for cuts.

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