February 8th, 2013 • SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, the party’s parliamentary spokesman on European Affairs, is far from happy with today’s agreement on the EU budget.
‘Prime Minister Mark Rutte surely can’t come home with such a result,’ he says. ‘The Netherlands will continue to have to pay more per head of the population than other better off member states. In addition, the EU budget remains hopelessly outdated. The lion’s share of the spending will still go to agriculture and the regional funds, with no attempt to address the wastefulness of much of this expenditure. This isn’t at all satisfactory as an improvement in relation to the budget for the next seven years.’
Van Bommel believes that Premier Rutte went into the negotiations with big ambitions: not only would the Netherlands hold on to our rebate, but there would even be some progress. The budget would also be modernised, with an emphasis on investment, innovation and sustainability. 'Instead of having brought the Dutch rebate into line with that of other more prosperous states, the Prime Minister is now happy that we aren’t lagging behind. Also, the negotiations did not succeed in improving answerability or putting a stop to waste. If the European Parliament votes to approve this we’ll be spending another seven years grumbling about the EU budget, so it would have been better to cast a veto and carry on negotiating.’