New Dutch Gov't formation: What we know so far
The VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie are now really very almost done with their government agreement, ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers said to NOS on Friday afternoon. But he thinks the four parties will have to meet again on Monday.
There will be no meetings over the weekend. The ChristenUnie respects the Sunday rest. "And on Saturday I have other plans", Segers said to the broadcaster.
The other negotiators also indicated that the government agreement is almost ready. "We came very far. It's a matter of rechecking the last issues. It takes time because it's a lot", CDA leader Sybrand Buma said. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold added that things are going "really fast" now. "That's nice for everyone." He is confident that there will be a stable cabinet.
Over the past months a number of the new government's plans leaked out. Here's what we know so far, according to RTL Nieuws.
The new government wants to lower taxes over the coming years, especially for the middle class. They are planning a reform that will result in a total of some 6 billion euros of tax cuts. The parties also want to reform the tax system to reduce the current four tax brackets to two. Most tax payers will pay the same tax, with only the 10 percent top earners paying more. To be able to afford this, the government is increasing the low VAT rate from 6 to 9 percent. The mortgage interest rebate will be accelerated from 2020 onwards.
Companies will pay much less tax in the coming years. The 25 percent corporate tax rate will be lowered to 21 percent, and the low tax rate for the first 200 thousand euros of profit is decreasing from 20 to 16 percent.
The cabinet is also lowering wealth tax - the tax on savings. The amount exempt from taxes is increasing to 30 thousand euros.
The government plans to scrap dividend tax - the 15 percent tax companies have to pay on the dividend to its shareholders, NOS reports. This will cost the government 1.4 billion euros per year. Companies will not make any more money, but the government hopes that this will encourage foreign companies to settle in the Netherlands and foreign investors to invest in Dutch companies.
Immigration and Asylum
The immigration policy will change so that immigrants have more help through the integration process, but less access to welfare benefits. Refugees with a residency permit will not be entitled to health benefits, rent allowance and healthcare allowance for the first two years they live in the Netherlands. Municipalities will arrange housing, health insurance and guidance in the integration process.
The government is also implementing more changes to the asylum policy. For example, the government wants to limit the number of times an asylum seeker can reapply for asylum. And residency permits for refugees - asylum seekers who were granted asylum - will be valid for only 3 years in the future, instead of the current 5 years.
The children's pardon will stay the same.
An extra amount of nearly 500 million euros is set aside to reduce the workload of teachers in primary education. The money can be spent on more teaching assistants and smaller classes. That amount comes on top of the previously promised 270 million euros for increasing teachers' salaries.
The government wants schools to teach their students about the Dutch national anthem, the Wilhelmus. This includes lessons on the text, meaning and melody of the anthem. The parties also want children to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Tweede Kamer in The Hague at least once during their school career. And young people will have priority in getting a job at the government if they first did some volunteer work in society.
An extra 170 million euros will be invested into early detection of learning disabilities in young children. With the money, the youngest toddlers can spend more time in day care or play groups. And the older kids in group 1 and 2 will get more lessons, particularly focused on language problems.
The new government will not abolish the student loan system introduced by the Rutte II government. The basic study grant will not return, but first year students will get a discount on their tuition, RTL Nieuws reports.
Healthcare own-risk deductibles will not increase next year, but remain 385 euros. To afford this, health premiums may increase slightly more than expected. This is the only plan formally confirmed by mediator Gerrit Zalm, according to RTL.
The new government agreed not to work on a proposal around euthanasia at the end of a long life itself. But more stem cell research will be done.
Defense is getting an extra amount of around 1.5 billion euros - around 1 billion euros for overdue maintenance and the rest for expansion.
The budget for the 'legal chain', including the police and Public Prosecutor, will increase each year. In In 2019 the chain will receive 430 million euros extra, and that amount will increase to almost half a billion euros by the end of the cabinet period. A large part of that extra money is going towards the police, especially to community police officers. And 60 million euros of the amount is intended for the fight against cybercrime.
The government is restricting the early release of prisoners serving a prison sentence. In the future prison sentences can still be shortened by a third under certain conditions, but never by more than two years, according to RTL.
Unlicensed escort agencies and pimps will face criminal prosecution in the future, according to the new government's plans. Under current Dutch law, unlicensed prostitution companies only face an administrative fine for working without a license. The four parties agreed that a harsher approach is needed to combat human trafficking.
Over 2 billion euros will be invested into roads, public transit and waterways in the coming years. There will also be more money for bike paths. Repeat traffic offenders will face higher fines, some train routes will have more Sprinters and highways will be lit in the night.
The parties want to encourage housing corporation to better insulate rental housing. As encouragement, the government will decrease the landlords tax - the tax for housing corporations - by 100 million euros.
Tax on gas is increasing, but tax on electricity is decreasing.
It will be more expensive to fully repay your mortgage in the future. The new government is scrapping the so-called Hillen Law, which was implemented to encourage people to repay their mortgages during the crisis, according to the Telegraaf. The Hillen Law is basically a deduction that ensures that people with little to no mortgage debt wil not pay more tax on balance. This deduction will gradually be lowered to nothing over 20 years.
Work and Labor
Small businesses will no longer have to pay sick leave for ill employees for two years, but for only one year. Larger businesses still have to pay the full two years. This is to encourage small businesses to hire people more often. Sick employees will not get less money - small companies will all put money into a fund to spread the risks, according to the broadcaster.
The new cabinet is introducing a minimum hourly wage of between 15 and 18 euros for freelancers or self-employed working at a low rate, like food deliverers or cleaners. People working for or below this minimum wage will also no longer be considered freelancers, which means that their employer will have to pay for things like holiday pay and employee insurance.
Under the new government, new fathers will have five days of fully paid paternity leave, instead of the current three days. Fathers will also have the possibility of taking five weeks off at 70 percent of their pay after the birth of their child.
The negotiators spoke about a kilometer tax for freight traffic. How this will be implemented is not yet clear.
Flying will be more expensive due to extra taxes
The parties will introduce a climate law, with legally set environmental goals, for example on reducing CO2 emissions.
The cabinet plans to launch an experiment with regulated cannabis cultivation. In the experiment, one organization will be given a government license to grow weed, which will be distributed in six to 10 municipalities. The new government hopes that this will reduce organized crime and increase the safety of cannabis in the country.
The new Dutch government plans to limit gender registration and work gender-neutrally as much as possible. Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution will be supplemented to specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The parties also made agreements regarding multiple parenthood - allowing a child to legally have more than two parents. They agreed to make this a so-called free-topic. This means that the two Christian parties - who are against this - do not have to vote for the proposal, but also won't impede it.
The new cabinet plans on tackling poverty by reducing the number of households with problematic debts. To do so they will address accumulating fines and unscrupulous debt collection agencies.
The way will also be opened for mayoral elections. How this will work, is not yet clea.