Dutch govt formation talks move to Hilversum
The negotiations on forming a new Dutch government will happen outside The Hague on Thursday and Friday. The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie will be meeting on De Zwaluwenberg in Hilversum, the workplace of the Inspector General of the Armed Forces, for those two days, NOS reports.
The expectation is that the negotiation sessions on Thursday and Friday will last longer than usual. Under the guidance of mediator Gerrit Zalm, the negotiators want to make some significant progress in this change of scenery. There is also less time for negotiation on the agenda next week, as a number of faction meetings are taking place then.
On Tuesday it was revealed that the negotiating parties are also discussing the national budget for next year. Prime Minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte said it was "common" for parties in the formation and the reigning government to have contact with each other about the budget, according to NOS. He said that mediator Zalm speaks with PvdA Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem every now and again, so there are no surprises.
The current VVD and PvdA government started preparing next year's budget on Tuesday. According to Rutte, these meetings are largely headed by Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA). Prime Minister Rutte only occasionally drops in, as he is busy with the formation talks. "Asscher and I fully trust each other, it is a good cooperation, even when we disagree", Rutte said, according to the broadcaster. The budget must be ready by next week Wednesday and will be presented on Budget Day next month.
A difficult topic on next year's budget is the issue of salary increases for teachers. The VVD and PvdA clashed harshly on the matter, and for a while it seemed that the government - the longest serving cabinet since World War II - may collapse. But it now seems that the worst has passed and they are getting closer to an agreement. VVD chairman Halbe Zijlstra said on Tuesday that it would be sloppy if the government collapses now, according to NOS. And Asscher was also optimistic about a good outcome. Both confirmed that this topic is also being discussed in the formation.