Dutch far-right slams ‘weak kneed’ Rutte over EU deal
Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders attacked Prime Minister Mark Rutte Tuesday over a EU virus recovery package he said gave money to southern European countries at the expense of the Netherlands.
Wilders, the peroxide-haired head of the Freedom Party (PVV), said the deal agreed in Brussels, was “madness.”
Rutte, in power for 10 years, faces elections next year in which far-right and eurosceptic parties are once again likely to pose a major challenge.
“Rutte has gone to his knees,” said Wilders, known for his firebrand anti-Islam and anti-immigration statements, calling for a “Nexit” from the EU.
The deal gave “390 billion euro gifts for Southern Europe”, Wilders said on Twitter, adding that it was “MADNESS!! Billions thrown away that we should have spent in our own country!”.
The 750-billion-euro ($858-billion) EU deal includes 390 billion euros in grants destined for southern countries like Italy and Spain that were worst hit by the virus.
Rutte was the unofficial leader of the “frugal” or fiscally disciplined group of EU countries that held out for four days and nights for the deal to contain more loans, and less money in grants.
The Dutch prime minister may have a tough task selling the deal to a sceptical parliament in which Wilders’ party is second largest behind Rutte’s liberal VVD.
Wilders criticised the fact that Italy was going to get the funds although “they hardly pay tax there”, adding that it was “Thanks to the weak knees of Rutte.”
The Forum for Democracy Party of populist eurosceptic leader Thierry Baudet meanwhile said that the Netherlands was “once again… is the ATM of the EU.”
Baudet’s party, which came second in European elections last year, also called for a referendum on EU membership following the virus deal.