Dutch finance minister pleased with Eurozone budget deal

Wopke Hoekstra
Wopke Hoekstra. (Photo: Rijksoverheid)

Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance is "very satisfied" with the agreement the EU Finance Minsters reached about the so-called  eurozone budget, calling it a "fruitful result for Dutch tax payers". "We have taken important steps towards better spending of EU money", the Dutch Finance Minister said in Luxembourg on Thursday, AD reports.

The budget is officially called the Budget Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC). It took the Eurogroup - the finance ministers of the euro countries - nearly two years to get to this agreement. The BICC is a leaner form of an ambitious eurozone budget that some EU Member States wanted, in which the budget would support countries that are struggling economically. The Netherlands torpedoed that plan. Now the focus of the BICC is on structural reforms and investments in the euro countries, with the aim of making the eurozone stronger. 

The Finance Ministers agreed that every euro country can use at least 70 percent of what it has invested in the budget. That money is intended for reforms, for example of the labor market by retraining unemployed people. "That is a huge improvement compared to now", Hoekstra said. "The Netherlands sees very little in return from the existing cohesion funds." Currently the Netherlands gets 12 cents back for every euro it put in development funds. Under the BICC it will be at least 70 cents per euro. 

How much money will be in the BICC is still to be negotiated, though it is expected to be around 17 billion euros for the 19 euro countries, according to the newspaper. The money will come from the European multi-year budget from 2021 to 2027 and must last that entire seven year span. 

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