Wilders anti-euro report gets frosty reception

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The anti-euro report commissioned by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, has been widely condemned in Dutch political circles. The report argues that the introduction of the euro has cost the Netherlands a fortune and that it would be cheaper to reintroduce the Dutch guilder than remain part of the euro zone, a message rejected by the Netherlands’ other political parties.

Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager says there’s plenty of research to indicate that it would cost far more to dismantle the euro zone than to stick with the single currency. He sees no reason to doubt the government’s current course of working towards achieving stability in the euro zone and points out the many benefits the European internal market had brought to the Netherlands.

Nostalgia The right-wing liberal VVD, the main party in the Netherlands’ current coalition government, argues that nostalgia for the guilder does not represent a solution to the present euro crisis. Instead, the party says, it will inflict serious damage on Dutch exports and the open Dutch economy. Spokesman Mark Harbers points out that, even if the Netherlands reverted to its own national currency, it would still be obliged to bailout Greece, just as Denmark and the UK – two EU member states outside the euro zone – are doing at present.

Economists Several leading Dutch economists state that the cost of abandoning the euro cannot be calculated with any certainty, not even by Lombard Street Research, the British agency behind the Freedom Party’s report. They point out that there are too many unpredictable factors at play. They also argue that a reintroduction of the guilder would herald the disintegration of the euro zone, and is therefore not politically feasible They also expect a detrimental effect on Dutch exports, a mainstay of the Dutch economy.

“Attention seeking” Support for the anti-euro report is nowhere to be found among the Dutch opposition parties. Labour says it is unrealistic to withdraw from the euro. GreenLeft leader Jolande Sap dismisses the report as attention-seeking behaviour: “I have not heard one feasible plan from the Freedom Party aimed at getting us out of the euro crisis.”

The Netherlands’ centre-right minority government relies heavily on the support of the anti-Islam and eurosceptic Freedom Party. The three parties are currently locked in negotiations behind closed doors aimed at hammering out a new round of far-reaching government cutbacks. It is generally assumed that the anti-euro report will not form part of the talks, given the lack of support across the political spectrum.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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