Talks on extra government cuts ‘difficult’

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Government talks on billions of euros of extra cutbacks have entered what officials are calling “a difficult phase”. The cuts are needed to reduce the 2013 budget deficit to within the European Union limit - three percent of GDP.

The minority coalition partners, the conservative VVD and the CDA Christian Democrats, have been negotiating for just over three weeks with Geert Wilders’ PVV Freedom Party.

The PVV has an agreement to back the minority coalition on most issues, giving the government a slim parliamentary majority. Last week, prominent PVV MP Hero Brinkman left the party, reducing the number of VVD, CDA and PVV MPs to 75 – exactly half the total members of parliament. Brinkman has, however, undertaken to continue voting for the government.

Time out
Earlier this week, it became clear that the negotiations were entering the decision-making phase, but that the parties were still deeply divided on a number of issues.

Today (Wednesday), the talks were broken off earlier than planned to give the three leaders time to consult members of their respective parties on the way forward. The talks are due to resume at 10:00 on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, opposition parties are putting pressure on the government, demanding a timeframe for the talks. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has told MPs that the government will keep to the European Commission’s deadline and that the plans for reducing the 2013 deficit will be ready by 30 April at the latest.

(mw/imm)

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