European Union

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is satisfied with the agreement reached this morning on the Corona Aid Fund and the EU’s multi-year budget. As far as he is concerned, all important points for the Netherlands are included.
Just after half past five, after more than four days, European leaders agreed on a European budget (up to and including 2027) of EUR 1 074 billion and a corona fund of EUR 750 billion. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of “a historic day for Europe”, but Rutte did not want to go that far. “I’m not like that.” The prime minister spoke of a “difficult and difficult process”. “There was a lot at stake. It is a lot of money. And it was also about helping countries recover from the terrible pandemic that has been plaguing Europe since February. It makes sense that this takes a little more time.”

No refund.
In particular, it took so long because countries could not agree on the corona repair fund. It has now been decided to supplement the fund with 390 billion in grants and 360 billion in loans. The money for this will be borrowed by the European Commission on the capital market. The Hague was not in favor of a recovery fund, and certainly not support through subsidies, because they do not have to be repaid. Rutte eventually gave up the opposition to this, because he was able to secure guarantees about how it was spent, with a focus on economic reforms.

“Good thing”
Despite the long resistance, Rutte called the fund a “good thing”. “We have always said that we show solidarity with the countries that have been hit hard. But that solidarity has two sides. We believe that we can ask them to implement reforms so that they are best prepared for the next crisis. ” According to Rutte, the emergency brake can now be pulled if the Member State receives money, but is not busy with the requested reforms. “It is not our goal to pull the emergency brake. It only serves as extra pressure. It is unpleasant if you are held accountable for not keeping your agreements. That is negative publicity. Because the emergency brake is there, we prevent it from being used.”

The prime minister does not feel that he has failed to keep promises not to give away money to countries such as Italy or Spain. Last month, when he was called during a working visit to The Hague not to give “that money”, he replied: “I remember that!” This morning he said about this: “I would like to say to that gentleman that money is not just going to those countries.” He also wanted to hear nothing about criticism of a diluted text about the linking of funds to the state of the rule of law. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, countries such as Hungary and Poland should stop the erosion of their legal system, Rutte always emphasized. If not, they would get less money from Brussels. “The core of what we want has remained intact. If a country violates European rules, measures can be imposed. The old text was more “in the face” of some countries, they were not happy about that. For us, this was one of the big points, a reason to drop the whole deal.”

Not impressed
A few other important cases have been brought in for the Netherlands, according to Rutte. “First, the payments to the EU have remained unchanged. We really wanted that and we succeeded. ” Furthermore, from 2021 onwards, our country will receive a higher discount of 1.92 billion euros on the annual EU contribution (that discount is now 1.57 billion). From now on, the Netherlands may also keep 25 instead of 20 percent of the customs duties that are collected in the port of Rotterdam, in the name of Brussels. That quickly rises to above 100 million euros. Rutte is also satisfied with the limited increase in the total budget. “It is in line with the new size of the union. After Brexit we are no longer with 28, but with 27. ” The Prime Minister was once again not impressed by the criticism he has endured recently, including from his colleagues. “There were certainly tough moments now and then. It chafes, that is part of it occasionally. The proportions are fine, we can take a beating. ” He does not think that the Netherlands, as captain of the ‘Miserable Four’, has lost credit to the rest of the Member States. “It can collide, anyone can against that.”

The world is richer in a new Dutch expression. Because according to the BBC, the current, widening EU summit will go down in history as the “stiff-leg summit”, or the top of the stiff leg. An expression that the Dutch use to indicate that Prime Minister Rutte is “sticking to his guns”, the British broadcaster explains to its international readers.

The foreign media are full of Rutte. For example, the Flemish newspaper De Standaard explains the reason for his stiff leg: “The persistence with which Rutte continued to fight for his right has a lot to do with Dutch politics. Parliamentary elections take place in the Netherlands in March. Although Rutte has been prime minister for ten years and his party is one block ahead of the polls, he thinks he cannot afford defeat in Brussels. When he bends, he gets the wind in front, both in the House of Representatives and in public opinion. ” “Rutte is the bitten dog. And not only with Macron, but also with Merkel and twenty other leaders, “said De Morgen. French newspaper Le Figaro writes that the major mistake of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in preparing this crucial summit was that they underestimate Mark Rutte’s “force of slowness.” “And also thinking that some visits to The Hague and maintaining a comfortable discount (on the Dutch EU contribution) would make him come back to his concerns.” A friend of the Prime Minister says to Le Figaro: “Mark does not change of opinion when under pressure. He only changes his position if there are good arguments.”

According to the Walloon newspaper Le Soir, the Dutch prime minister does not simply demand a veto for the Netherlands. “For Rutte, it is important to make it clear to his Dutch home front for the upcoming elections that he can be exemplary strict with the southern countries that have been knocked out by the corona virus, but are still lagging behind with their reforms.” Behind the resistance against the colossal The amount of aid is something else that the miserly countries, with the lead of the Netherlands and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, do not want to mention, according to the French newspaper Libération: “A leap to a federal Europe whose construction is so badly needed.” That is worth something, ” including a postponement of this meeting to the next ultimate summit of the last chance ‘. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s action at the EU summit is reminiscent of the Cold War communist dictatorship, according to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The record of the longest European summit has just not been reached.

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