Crisis in the Hague angers EU

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Many EU politicians have berated the Netherlands for failing to avert the political crisis about austerity measures.

At the last round of negotiations on the Greek bail-out some five months ago, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager called on EU countries to impose iron discipline when it came to managing their national budgets. They insisted on introducing a penalty system for countries that failed to meet the EU deficit norm of three percent of Gross Domestic Product GDP. Rutte said.

And now the Netherlands is itself faced with the prospect of not being able to balance its books. The budget negotiation between the minority coalition partners – Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats – and their parliamentary backer Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, lasted seven weeks. Wilders walked away just as an agreement seemed imminent. The EU deadline for reaching agreement on further cutbacks is 30 April, which means the prime minister will have to rely on the opposition to get his budget through parliament. “Squanderers in garlic countries” Although Rutte and de Jager took a hardline stance on Greece, their tone remained professional throughout. Geert Wilders, who signed a governing agreement with the coalition partners only 18 months ago, referred to

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister who now leads an alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, has accused Wilders of “Greek cowardice.” He criticised Wilders for blocking the proposed austerity measures. “Wilders critised the Greeks, but is now appealing for that lassitude to be copied,” said the MEP.

Diplomats in Brussels accuse the Netherlands of “first shouting and pointing the finger at budget sinners in the south and then not being able to produce what they preached,” says Dutch newspaper . The

Walking out has high price European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, who is also a member of the VVD, says she is most concerned about the situation:

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