Senate urges return to 0.7% development aid

11 December 2012

Senate urges return to 0.7% development aid

With only the centre-right governing party the VVD and the hard right PVV voting against, the Senate has backed a motion from the SP calling for a return to the international norm for development aid of 0.7% of GDP. Last week Prime Minister Mark Rutte counselled against the resolution, but clearly failed to persuade Senators.

As long ago as 1977 it was agreed internationally that each developed country would devote at least 0.7% of its Gross National Product (GNP) to development cooperation. For many years the Netherlands took the lead in this, together with a few other western European countries and those of Scandinavia. The first Rutte government (following September’s general election the Prime Minister succeeded in assembling a new coalition), under pressure from the PVV, whose ‘toleration’ it needed to stay in power, abandoned this position. In the election campaign the level of development aid formed one of the main points of contention between the VVD on the one hand and the Labour Party and SP on the other. In negotiations over forming a government, however, Rutte and Labour leader Diederik Samsom decided to cut aid by no less than a billion euro, so that Rutte’s second and present government’s policy also falls well under the international norm.

During the debate on the budget last week, SP Senate leader Tiny Kox described this cut as ‘unacceptable’ and called on the Senate to take a stand against it, pointing to the fact that Samsom himself recognises that the move would mean that the Netherlands was abandoning decent standards.

The call was successful, with both the governing Labour Party and the opposition Christian Democrats backing it, together with the Green Left and centrist parties D66 and the Christian Union. The motion expressed the view that the Netherlands must maintain its leading role in relation to development cooperation, giving the government the task of putting forward alternatives which would make it possible in time to make the 0.7% norm a policy directive.

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