Dutch PM criticized over EU Covid recovery fund
Prime Minister Mark Rutte faced a lot of criticism in the parliamentary debate on the European Union coronavirus recovery fund. Some parties think that Rutte gave too much money and power to the EU, others think that he was too strict and too stingy. But despite the criticism, the majority supported Rutte and the fund, NOS reports.
The recovery fund will contain 750 billion euros - 390 billion euros in subsidies, and 360 billion in loans to individual countries. Loans EU countries take from this fund must be repaid by 2058. The Netherlands contribution will be about 1 billion euros per year from 2028, decreasing to 800 thousand euros in 2058. Countries can only be eligible for aid from this fund if they have a good economic recovery plan. A Member State can object to aid to another Member State.
Far-right parties PVV and FvD were both vehemently opposed to the fund and to Rutte himself. They believe Rutte just gave away billions of euros to the "poor" member states. They submitted a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister, but it failed. "I've completely had it with this Prime Minister," PVV leader Geert Wilders said. FvD leader Thierry Baudet said that EU countries should not borrow money together. He thinks every country should deal with the corona crisis itself.
The SGP raised concerns about the "huge mountain of debt" the EU is saddling the coming generations with. "And repayment of those debts will take until 2058. 2058!" MP Roelof Bisschop said. 50Plus also raised concerns about these debts.
Rutte acknowledged that he had to compromise, specifically on the part where part of the recovery fund is given to countries in need as subsidies or gifts and not loans. Rutte thinks this is justifiable, because the Netherlands would suffer if the economies of countries like Spain and italy collapse. "And it is in the interest of the Netherlands if there is a stable EU, given the power blocks of the United States and China," Rutte said. "We in our small, prosperous country live in an uncertain world. And we cannot do it alone."
The D66 was critical of the months of arguments and fights that preceded the agreement on the recovery fund, saying Rutte should have shown a bit more of a "pro-EU face". GroenLinks is "actually quite happy" with the recovery fund, but parliamentarian Bram van Oijk criticized the tough, economy first stance the Netherlands took in the negotiations. The PvdA was also critical of this. MPs pointed out that Rutte got the nickname "Mister No" in the negotiations, and Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra had to apologize for his lack of empathy.
The VVD and CDA were quite satisfied, because countries in need will only get help if they implement economic reforms so that they can stand on their own feet in the future. The parties were also pleased with the "emergency brake" - that other Member States can object to gifts or loans. Rutte stressed that this is "a political agreement" - the objecting country must be able to substantiate its objections properly.