Budget, Covid support plans nearly done after hours-long negotiations
The coalition parties broadly agreed on next year's budget and a new package of measures to support companies through the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after hours of negotiations that ran well into the night. "The consultation has reached the point where we no longer have to meet," he said to RTL Nieuws as he was leaving the Ministry of Finance shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Thursday.
The government still has to approve the agreements that the coalition parties made. After that, the 2021 budget can go to the Council of State. For the third coronavirus support package, consultations with employers and trade unions are still ahead. The purpose of this third support package is to get out of this crisis with an as strong as possible economy, Rutte said. "Everything is aimed at that."
Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that the budget puzzle was more complex than usual, due to the unprecedented economic dip and the other consequences of the coronavirus crisis.
The cabinet also reached an agreement on an investment fund, often called the Wopke-Weibes fund, from which 20 billion euros will be invested into projects that strengthen the economy over the next five years. "We must encourage the government and companies to invest," Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs said on Wednesday. "Because with investment we get out of this crisis. It will create jobs in the short term and in the longer term higher prosperity. That will benefit us now and in the future."