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Dutch Coalition, Opposition Agree on Austerity Package

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem reached an agreement with opposition parties for a 6 billion-euro ($8.1 billion) austerity package for 2014.

“I am satisfied that the budget will be firm now,” Dijsselbloem told reporters in The Hague late today. “This offers a lot of security for people who questioned what was going to happen” and allows the Netherlands to meet its European budget agreements, he said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s plan for spending cuts and tax increases, presented on Sept. 17, comes on top of a four-year, 16 billion-euro package his coalition approved late last year. The four-year plan called for 3.5 billion euros in deficit reduction to take effect in 2014.

Dijsselbloem will amend the 2014 budget plans after the governing coalition of the Liberal Party and Labor Party reached an agreement with the Democrats D66, the Christian Union and SGP Reform Protestants today. The agreement increases by 600 million euros the amount the government will spend on education. The parties also agreed to bring forward plans to make it easier to dismiss employees.

Rutte’s coalition needs support from opposition parties as it lacks a majority in the Senate. This agreement secures a majority in the upper house in order to get approval for the austerity package.

The Netherlands is in its third recession since the global financial crisis started in 2008 and has been in breach of the European Union’s deficit limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product since 2009. The budget shortfall will widen to 3.3 percent of GDP in 2014 from an expected 3.2 percent this year even after the government introduced the additional austerity package, its planning agency said Sept. 15.

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