Nitrogen targets won't change, Cabinet says as it puts discussion on hold
The Cabinet says it will stick to its targets to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 compared to 2019. The coalition put the internal quarrel after the nitrogen statements of CDA leader and Deputy Prime Minister Wopke Hoekstra on hold for the time being. The coalition is awaiting the outcome of talks led by VVD celebrity Johan Remkes. In the coming weeks, he will discuss the nitrogen crisis with farmers’ organizations.
That was the outcome of a marathon debate about Hoekstra’s statement that the nitrogen targets aren’t set in stone for the CDA. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, returned from summer recess for the debate.
According to the coalition, the fact that they’re putting discussions about the nitrogen policy aside until Remkes is done shows that there may still be room to be flexible in achieving the goals. The VVD, D66, and CU - the CDA’s coalition partners - all stressed that they would not change the nitrogen targets.
However, CU leader Gert-Jan Segers said these are the “weeks of truth” at the end of the debate. According to Segers, the talks with Remkes “need all the space, and when we resume, we will have to weigh again and debate with each other. The perspective of the farmers is crucial.”
The debate also showed that especially the D66 and VVD were unhappy with how the CDA once again poured oil on the nitrogen debate. The CDA leader made his controversial statements in the AD. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Hoekstra was on thin ice under constitutional law because his actions were not in line with the unity of Cabinet policy.
Reassuring for the coalition is that Hoekstra confirmed that he and his party support the coalition agreement. At the same time, he still stands behind the interview. And that really smarts, he admitted. The CDA is in a difficult position because farmers have massively opposed the nitrogen policy for months. The CDA has traditionally been a party that stands up for farmers.
Opposition parties - both supporters and opponents of the nitrogen policy - believe that the CDA Minister undermined Cabinet policy and wanted clarity from the Christian Democrats and Prime Minister Rutte about the situation. A motion by GroenLinks to leave the nitrogen goals for 2030 as is, however, received no support from the coalition factions. The Cabinet discouraged support for the proposal because the motion did not propose an adjustment to policy. Only the petitioners GroenLinks, Volt, PvdA, and PvdD supported the motion.
A motion of no confidence filed by the PVV, also on behalf of the SP, against the government was also rejected. Support for this came only from DENK, BBB, JA21, FvD, and Groep Van Haga.
Reporting by ANP