Netherlands still Europe's milch-cow

27 September 2005

Netherlands still Europe's milch-cow

Figures from the European Commission reveal that last year the Netherlands paid a net €194 per inhabitant to the EU, making it, just as in previous years, Europe's biggest net payer. In 2006 the contribution could rise still further, to a possible € 300 per head. SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel said, “This is unacceptable. The Netherlands has for too long been Brussels' milch-cow.”

Harry van BommelThe Dutch contribution to the EU could be significantly reduced were the structural funds and agricultural subsidies to be reformed. An end should be put to the pointless system whereby structural fund subsidies are paid back to richer member states. As Van Bommel asks, “What European necessity justifies Brussels' making available millions of euros for cycle paths in the Dutch province of Drenthe? If the financing of such projects in richer member states were stopped, the EU budget could be drastically cut and we would be able to use the money saved to finance them ourselves.”

A review of spending on agriculture is also urgently needed. As things stand more than 40 percent of the annual EU budget is devoted to agricultural subsidies which for the most part go to big farm corporations and food and transport multinationals. Data released recently by the Ministry of Agriculture show that the major firms such as Nestlé, Heineken, DSM, KLM and Shell are receiving hundreds of millions in such subsidies every year.

Mr Van Bommel said, “Agricultural subsidies are supposed to offer income support to farmers, not a bonus for profit-making undertakings. If farm minister Cees Veerman were to scrap subsidies to the biggest beneficiaries, the Dutch contribution to the EU could be significantly reduced.”

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