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Netherlands Would Benefit From Euro Exit, Freedom Party Says

Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said the Netherlands, the euro area’s second-largest exporter after Germany, would profit from abandoning the euro and returning to the guilder.

“The Netherlands can exit the euro, but you have to be honest, it’ll cost money,” Wilders told reporters in The Hague today, citing the findings of a report by London-based Lombard Street Research commissioned by his party.

Wilders, whose lawmakers support the minority coalition of Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte on most subjects, said a referendum is needed on whether the Netherlands should stay in the euro area. The ruling Liberals and Christian Democrats rely on the opposition Labor Party to back their European policy as Wilders opposes further financial aid to debt-ridden euro countries.

“In the worst case, if the guilder appreciates 10 percent, we’ll suffer a loss of 51 billion euros ($67 billion)” in 2012, Wilders said, citing the report. “That will be compensated starting in the second year, because it’s smaller than the 37 billion and 38 billion euros we will save in 2013 and 2014 by not contributing to maintaining the euro zone.”

Bailout Fund

European leaders agreed last week to provide capital faster for their planned permanent bailout fund to strengthen the single-currency bloc’s defenses against a debt crisis that has necessitated two bailouts for Greece and rescues for Portugal and Ireland. They also signed a deficit-control treaty, putting tighter limits on spending.

“The importance of the euro zone can’t be underestimated and one shouldn’t make the calculations in the first five or 10 years,” European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said in an interview with Dutch television program Buitenhof yesterday, before the report was published. “I haven’t seen this study, but I assume that you can always find a research institute to prove what you want to be proven.”

Wilders’s presentation coincided with the start of negotiations between the Freedom Party and Rutte’s government on further budget cuts needed to bring the Netherlands’ deficit in line with the European Union’s current limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product.

Next year’s shortfall will be 4.5 percent of gross domestic product, government planning agency CPB said last week. The 2013 forecast equates to a 9 billion-euro overshoot of the EU limit, it said. The Dutch economy went into its second recession in three years in the second half of 2011 as budget cuts and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis curbed consumer demand.

‘One of Many’

Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said today that Lombard Street’s findings were just “one of many reports on the euro,” according to broadcaster NOS.

“The euro and the internal market have brought the Netherlands a lot of benefits,” NOS cited the minister as saying on its website. Twelve studies sent to the Dutch parliament showed “others estimate the costs to be much higher” for a Dutch exit from the single currency.

“That is why the government will strive for stability in the euro zone,” he said.

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