After a tumultuous first day of the General Political Reflections, in which the entire cabinet walked away from the speech of FvD leader Thierry Baudet, today it is Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s turn. A pile of motions has been submitted, of which it is already clear that a number of them will get a majority. VFollow everything in our live blog below this story.
Maarten van Ast, Hanneke Keultjes, Marcia Nieuwenhuis, Niels Klaassen
Sep 22. 2022
Many of the problems that the Netherlands is currently facing, such as sky-high energy prices, are related to the war in Ukraine. Rutte does not intend to be ‘a little more flexible’ for Russia, so that the Netherlands gets ‘cheaper Russian gas and then it’s fun again’. “Then we have given in to blackmail and the fence is over.”
Partly due to the Ukraine war, the cabinet presented a ‘historical’ purchasing power package on Budget Day with a volume of more than 17 billion euros. There will also be a price ceiling for the energy bill. The opposition already ruled yesterday that the cabinet is ‘too late’ with measures, and also thinks that it is not enough. At the end of the debate, a large number of motions are submitted, of which, according to coalition parties, it is already clear that some of them will get a majority. For example, there is a majority in favor of an acceleration plan by VVD and CDA for nuclear energy.
Furthermore, a majority in the House of Representatives wants ‘more work to pay more’. In the fight against the staff shortage, they want people with a bonus to be tempted to work full-time. The cabinet is already investigating such a full-time bonus, but the House also wants to speed up the process. A majority supports a motion by VVD and D66 to this effect.
PVV leader Geert Wilders mainly wanted to talk about the asylum crisis during the debate and asked Rutte whether he “has any idea how many non-Western immigrants have arrived since he became Prime Minister?” ,,No,” replies Rutte. According to Wilders, ‘this cost about 20 billion euros’. ,,And this year again, 33,000 people have applied for asylum”, continues Wilders. Rutte argues that this puts the Netherlands in seventh place in Europe and that smaller countries such as Belgium ‘accept more asylum seekers on average than we do’. “So it’s not the case that we take in an insanely large number of asylum seekers.”
Most of the debate revolves around measures to offset energy bills. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver wants the cabinet to adjust the plan for this. Rutte says that this will still happen, and that the cabinet wants to consult with GroenLinks, PvdA ‘and other parties’. The prime minister does not want to promise ‘in advance’ that the price ceiling will be expanded, because it could also lead to people using more gas. “I think it’s important that the savings incentive of 10 percent is included.”
He does want to look at people who depend on medical equipment or who have an electric heat pump. They risk having to pay more because of the price ceiling. “People with a heat pump now say: well, that’s great. We are going to see if we can still meet them somewhat, no matter how difficult it may be.”
Caroline van der Plas of the BoerBurgerBeweging suggests: “I wonder why not everyone can just get an insulation voucher?” too cumbersome.
Prime Minister Rutte reacted briefly at the beginning of the day to the collective departure of the cabinet from the debate last night. Yesterday Baudet spoke in his contribution about St. Antony’s College, part of Oxford University, where Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag studied. He called it a ‘spy college‘, which he seemed to associate Kaag with espionage. ,,What happened was that there was an alt-right conspiracy theory was thrown into the Chamber about a colleague of mine in the cabinet, with all the associated risks for safety, for inciting population groups. We can also take personal criticism, but this was far outthis went across all borders.”
Baudet was excluded from the debate last night, his ‘suspension’ only applied for that day. Baudet is not present today, his spokesman said. He was in a broadcast of broadcasting Unheard of Netherlands.
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