Dutch Labor Reforms Don’t Address Root Causes of Liberalization

Amsterdam Netherlands
Buildings on the Damrak in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Unsplash/Ronni Kurtz)

The Netherlands is finally about to have a new government. Ten months after the elections, and three weeks after parties did a deal, Mark Rutte is due to present his fourth cabinet in a week.

I’m happy with many of the proposals in the coalition agreement, which I summarized here before Christmas; not surprising, since it’s a coalition of four centrist and center-right parties, led by my own (Rutte’s).

I am worried about their plans for the labor market, which would raise costs for employers and freelancers in order to discourage abuses of self-employment laws.

(I also wrote a column on this in Dutch for deZZP.) Read more “Dutch Labor Reforms Don’t Address Root Causes of Liberalization”

What’s in the Dutch Coalition Agreement

Mark Rutte Justin Trudeau
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with members of the Dutch government in The Hague, October 29 (PMO)

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member) has completed negotiations with the left-liberal D66 and two Christian democratic parties to form his fourth government in the Netherlands.

At 47 pages, the coalition agreement is short by Dutch standards. In some cases, the parties define the outlines of a compromise but leave it to the next cabinet to fill in the blanks. Rutte has to find nineteen ministers and ten junior ministers.

Yesterday, I listed the key policies at a high level, which was based on Dutch media reports and the draft of an agreement Christian Union leader Gert-Jan Segers forgot on a train in November. Now that I’ve read the full text, I can give you the details. Read more “What’s in the Dutch Coalition Agreement”

The Next Dutch Government, Explained

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 14 (NATO)

Nine months after parliamentary elections, parties in the Netherlands are finally ready to form a government.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member) has completed negotiations with the left-liberal D66, the Christian democratic CDA and the Christian Union (CU). The same four parties formed his last government.

At 271 days, this was the longest government formation in postwar Dutch history.

Why did it take so long? And what’s next? I’ll explain. Read more “The Next Dutch Government, Explained”

Commission Sides with Rutte over Macron on Industrial Policy

Emmanuel Macron Mark Rutte
French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte during a European Council summit in Brussels, June 24, 2018 (Elysée/Philippe Servent)

The European Commission has sided with the Netherlands and smaller nations against a Franco-German proposal for industrial policy.

The decision is a victory for Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who has formed a loose alliance of likeminded Central and Northern European member states to prevent a lurch to protectionism in a Europe without the UK. Read more “Commission Sides with Rutte over Macron on Industrial Policy”

Dutch Get Preview of Next Government’s Policies

Mark Rutte Emmanuel Macron
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meets with French president Emmanuel Macron in the Elysée Palace in Paris, August 31 (Elysée/Laurent Blevennec)

A deal between two of the four parties negotiating to form a government in the Netherlands has leaked.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member) and the Christian democratic CDA wrote the outlines of a coalition agreement for review by the social-liberal D66 and the smaller Christian Union.

Christian Union leader Gert-Jan Segers forgot a copy of the document on a train, where it was found by a fellow commuter, who sent it to de Volkskrant newspaper. (Seriously.)

Earlier D66 and VVD wrote their own outline of a coalition agreement, which was released officially.

Putting the two documents side by side should give us an idea of what the next Dutch government will do. Read more “Dutch Get Preview of Next Government’s Policies”

Germany Has Bigger Drug Problem Than Netherlands

Frau Antje
Illustration from the cover of Der Spiegel, October 16

Der Spiegel makes a mockery of the Dutch drug policy. Under the header “Käse, Koks und Killer” (Cheese, Coke and Killers; English version here), the German weekly portrays the Netherlands’ stereotypical Frau Antje with a joint between her lips, a Kalashnikov in one hand and a round cheese stuffed with cocaine in the other. The Netherlands, it claims, is “terrorized” by drug traffickers.

To Germans who are thinking of following the Dutch example and decriminalizing cannabis, Der Spiegel has a clear warning: don’t, or we’ll suffer the consequences. Read more “Germany Has Bigger Drug Problem Than Netherlands”

Breakthrough in Dutch Coalition Talks

Sigrid Kaag
Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag speaks at an event about EU-Japan trade, February 7, 2019 (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken)

Six and a half months after they were elected, Dutch lawmakers have finally taken a step closer to forming a coalition government: the same as the last one.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Christian Union were ready to renew their vows after the election in March. The coalition as a whole had gained seats, although the CDA lost four. The center-right parties are aligned on agriculture and EU policy, health care and taxes.

Their fourth partner, the social-liberal D66, needed more time. Read more “Breakthrough in Dutch Coalition Talks”

Europe’s High Energy Prices, Explained

Eemshaven Netherlands power plant
Power plant in the Eemshaven of the Netherlands, April 17, 2020 (Unsplash/Untitled Photo)

Electricity prices are hitting records across Europe. In Portugal and Spain, wholesale energy prices have tripled from half a year ago to €178 per megawatt-hour. Italy is not far behind at €176. Dutch households without a fixed-price contract could end up paying €500 more this year. In the UK, prices peaked at €247 per megawatt-hour earlier this week.

The main culprit is the high price of natural gas, up 440 percent from a year ago. But Europe is facing something of a perfect storm involving accidents, depleted reserves and a higher carbon price.

Here are all the reasons prices are up — and what governments are doing about it. Read more “Europe’s High Energy Prices, Explained”

Curaçao Accepts Dutch Supervision of Economic Reforms

Willemstad Curaçao
View of Willemstad, Curaçao (iStock)

The new government of Curaçao has accepted Dutch supervision of economic reforms it is due to carry out as part of a COVID-19 rescue plan.

Parties led by Gilmar Pisas won the election in March on a promise to oppose supervision.

The now-prime minister defended his about-face by arguing Curaçao was with its “back against the wall.”

Which was the same argument his predecessor, Eugene Rhuggenaath, made in the election campaign, when Pisas rejected it. Read more “Curaçao Accepts Dutch Supervision of Economic Reforms”

Why It’s Taking So Long to Form a Government in the Netherlands

Mark Rutte Angela Merkel
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet with other European leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2019 (European Council)

Five months after parliamentary elections, parties haven’t even begun substantive coalition talks in the Netherlands, already making this the third-longest government formation in postwar Dutch history.

Mark Rutte remains in office as caretaker prime minister, but his government can’t make major decisions on such issues as climate policy, reform of child benefits, labor law and taxes.

Those issues are one reason it’s taking so long: whatever choices the next government makes could reverberate for years. Read more “Why It’s Taking So Long to Form a Government in the Netherlands”