Dijsselbloem to Start Talks With Opposition on Austerity Package

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem will start talks with the opposition as soon as next week to get backing for a 6 billion-euro ($8.1 billion) austerity package for 2014.

“It’s important that we make a start next week,” Dijsselbloem told reporters today in The Hague in a televised interview. “The proposals from the opposition and from the government are on the table and now it’s time to put our shoulders to the wheel,” Dijsselbloem said.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the opposition didn’t come closer to agreement on budget proposals for 2014 during two days of debate in Parliament. Rutte’s plan for additional spending cuts and tax increases, presented Sept. 17, comes on top of a four-year, 16 billion-euro package his coalition with the Labor Party approved late last year. Of this, 3.5 billion euros were already penciled in to take effect in 2014.

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 then. 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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