The Far-right Dutch Government Faces Clashes with Brussels - Latest Global News

The Far-right Dutch Government Faces Clashes with Brussels

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The new far-right government in the Netherlands has agreed on a coalition program that may lead to clashes with Brussels over migration, energy and climate policy.

The program was unveiled on Thursday after six months of talks after anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) won elections for the first time in the country’s history.

Despite agreeing on the program, leaders of the four coalition parties were still debating the name of the future prime minister, a day after a self-imposed deadline on Wednesday.

Local media reported that Wilders had asked Ronald Plasterk, a former Dutch Labor Party minister, to take on the task, but he refused to comment.

It has been reported that Wilders has asked Ronald Plasterk, pictured, a former Dutch Labor Party minister, to become prime minister © Robin Utrecht/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

Coalition talks between the conservative-liberal VVD – the party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte – the center-right New Social Contract and the populist Farmers-Citizens Movement have proven difficult.

The three parties refused to join a government led by Wilders himself, who agreed to remain leader of the PVV in the Dutch parliament. The cabinet will consist of politicians and technocrats.

Rob Jetten, outgoing climate minister and leader of the liberal D66 party, said it was a “shaky coalition” pursuing “fantasies” built on “financial quicksand”.

Sarah de Lange, a politics professor at the University of Amsterdam, said: “It remains very difficult to predict whether this governing coalition will be stable.”

The new government is planning 14 billion euros in spending cuts after Wilders backed off some of his demands that would have widened the country’s budget deficit.

According to the program, energy and climate-related measures will be restricted in line with the EU Green Deal. These include replacing gas boilers with electrically powered heat pumps and reducing nitrogen emissions to meet EU standards.

Despite its small size, the Netherlands is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world in terms of value. Rutte’s previous government offered to buy out farmers to reduce animal waste and fertilizer emissions.

The move sparked months of protests by farmers in 2022, and demonstrations against environmental measures and bureaucracy have since spread across Europe.

The new coalition says it will negotiate alternative measures with the EU – although it will face legal challenges from green groups and possibly the European Commission.

The new Dutch government also promises to restrict the access of international students and workers from outside the EU.

As part of its “strictest border policy ever,” it is seeking an exit from European asylum and migration policy. The prospect is unrealistic as it would require changes to the EU treaties and the consent of the other 26 member states.

Wilders said the move will “definitely make the Netherlands less attractive for asylum seekers. People in Africa and the Middle East will think they might be better off somewhere else.”

The country with 18 million inhabitants accepted 48,500 asylum seekers and their relatives in 2023, more than half of them from Syria and Iraq. Processing of new applications will stop while a backlog is processed that could potentially lead to Brussels taking legal action.

“You cannot opt ​​out of EU legislation,” said European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer.

Denmark and Ireland secured opt-outs, but they did so in negotiations over changes to the EU treaties.

The new government also wants to cut planned contributions to the EU budget by 1.6 billion euros annually in the next financial period 2028-2034 to finance domestic spending.

In addition, it will consider following the US in moving the Dutch embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Additional reporting by Daria Mosolova and Laura Dubois in Brussels

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