Dutch coalition begin 2017 budget talks as elections grow closer

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With elections only 330 days away, the Dutch coalition of VVD and PvdA are meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the budget for next year. Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem of Finance will need to find a way to deal with  2.5 billion euro shortfall, BNR reports.

The shortfall can partly be attributed to the civic servants salary increase being a heavier burden on the budget than expected, according tot he broadcaster. Finding a way to make up the shortfall is sure to be a difficult task, especially with the elections looming. Ministers aren't keen to make cuts ahead of the elections.

The meeting is taking place now that Dijsselbloem has spoken with all the ministers about their wishes for their ministries budget this year and next year. Tonight they will look at how much each ministry needs and where the money will come from.

The costs involved in sheltering asylum seekers will be part of the budget, Dijsselbloem told the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament, on Tuesday. D66 MP Wouter Koolmees wants the Netherlands to ask for an exception from European rules, so that asylum shelter does not have to be part of the budget. In that case the Netherlands can invest in proper reception and integration for asylum seekers without fears of sanctions, the Volkskrant reports. "If we leave these people to their fate, we will have a welfare explosion in the year after", he said.

But according to Dijsselbloem, such an exception can only be maid for once-off or unexpected expenses. It can also only be made after the fact. And that is not necessary for the asylum costs of the past two years.

Despite big issues like the Ukraine referendum and and terrorist attacks in Brussels, there's been hardly any change in the monthly poll. The VVD is still in the lead with between 31 and 35 virtual parliamentary seat. The VVD follows in second place with between 25 and 29.