Netherlands again criticized for lack of solidarity ahead of EU summit
The European Union government leaders are meeting, via video call, on Thursday to discuss the so-called economic recovery fund to help EU economies recover after the coronavirus crisis. Over the past days, several politicians, including Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, again criticized the Netherlands for not showing solidarity with hard-hit countries. And that attitude is unlikely to change after today's meeting, as Prime Minister Mark Rutte first wants a thorough analysis of what it will take to help various economies recover, before talking about money, NOS reports.
Thousands of billions of euros are expected to be put in the economic recovery fund. The government leaders will discuss where that money will come from. Spain, for example, wants to feed the fund with a kind of perpetual loans - the EU lends money that will never be repaid, but investors can receive interest on those loans. Italy still wants Eurobonds - government bonds from all EU member states combined. But as far as the Netherlands is concerned, the idea for Eurobonds is "dead and buried", people involved told NOS.
The idea that the Netherlands supports, is to fund the recovery plans through the EU budget, insiders told the broadcaster. The Netherlands was already in favor of a new modern budget and now sees its chance. Money can be made available within the ordinary budget by allocating more money for helping people and less for infrastructure, for example. Expenses from the budget up to 2027 can also be brought forward, so that you have more money now and less later.
The Netherlands does not want to pay more than 1 percent of its GDP to the EU. If more money is needed to recover the economy in the EU, then it can be pushed in once, according to the Dutch government, but there will be "no structural increase".
The Dutch government also won't support plans to allow hard-hit countries like Spain and Italy to pay no contribution to the EU for the time being, turning them from net-payers into net-recipients, according to the broadcaster. Spain was a recipient for many years, but its economic growth in recent years was set to turn it into a payer in the near future. Italy has always been a payer due to its relatively strong economy.
After their meeting, the EU heads of government will ask the European Commission to come up with plans for the recovery fund. Regardless of what plan is decided on, the Netherlands will insist that the money must not disappear into a bottomless pit, according to NOS' insiders. There must always be conditions attached, as far as the Netherlands is concerned - the money must be used to invest, not just to spend.