Dutch economy strong, but vulnerable to international developments, Dutch King says in Budget Day speech

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima arriving at the Ridderzaal in The Hague for the King's Budget Day speech, 17 September 2019
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima arriving at the Ridderzaal in The Hague for the King's Budget Day speech, 17 September 2019Photo: Martijn Beekmam/Ministrie van Financien

The Dutch economy is strong and the outlook for next year remains positive, but risks are looming from abroad, Dutch King Willem-Alexander said in his Budget Day speech for 2019. 

"A strong economy is needed to further build on a strong Netherlands", King Willem-Alexander started his speech on Tuesday. The outlook for next year remains, positive, but the reality is that the growth will level out in the coming years. "Our economy is sensitive to international developments such as trade wars and the Brexit", the King warned.

The King called the Netherlands' goal to be climate-neutral by 2050 "equally necessary and promising". With the pension agreement and the climate agreement, the government is looking at the medium- and long-term, he said. "The generations after us are also entitled to a good pension, clean air and a livable country." Clean air and new forms of energy can go hand in hand with sustainable agriculture and innovative business. But the bill for the climate agreement must be fairly distributed. "For industry, there will be a CO2 tax and citizens can become more sustainable step by step."

According to the King, this government has also made concrete plans for the short term in addition to its government agreement, to deal with immediate problems cropping up. Extra money will be made available for tackling bottlenecks in youth care, he said. And gas extraction in Groningen will be reduced and finally stopped at an accelerated pace.

He also addressed the consequences of the rising life expectancy and the aging population in the Netherlands. "It is positive that we live longer. But this also increases the number of chronic illnesses and more and more care is needed, while there are limits to the availability of people and resources", he said.  "Important steps are already being taken, for example with targeted measures for people to opt for careers in healthcare." But more is needed, he said. "How do we ensure there is enough loving people at the bedside and in home care?" The government will present its plans for the "future outline of care" before the summer of 2020, the King said.

"Confidence in the future also has to do with the way people feel represented and with the quality of public services", the King said. The government is therefore also working on proposals for renewal of the Dutch electoral system, so that Netherlands residents can have more influence on who enters parliament. A youth parliament will be established, the King announced. 

The King spoke about the liberation of the Netherlands 75 years ago. "It is special to live in a country where people can call themselves safe", he said. He praised the multilateral system that helped the Netherlands in the period after the Second World War. "That system must be brought up to date", he said, pointing to cyber security as an example.

Finally, King Willem-Alexanerder pointed out that the number of immigrants coming to the Netherlands is falling. "The Netherlands always shelters the people who really need help", he said. He added that a good system is needed for asylum seekers who have no chance of getting a residency permit in the Netherlands and cause problems. "Here too the EU must act together, certainly in the direction of the countries of origin. In this way, support for a humane and fair asylum policy remains in tact."