Dutch parties reach deal on budget

April 26, 2012 at 1:36 PM
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, April 26 (UPI) -- The caretaker Dutch government and three opposition parties reached agreement Thursday on a 2013 budget ahead of a European Union deadline, officials said.

Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said he believed the deal would keep the budget within the European Commission's target of a deficit totaling 3 percent of the Netherlands' gross domestic product by 2013, the BBC reported.

"The five parties think they can stay within the 3 percent European norm," he said.

The caretaker government -- composed of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal party and De Jager's Christian Democrats -- has been in discussions with the Christian Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

The combined membership of the three opposition parties holds a two-seat majority in the 150-member Dutch lower house, The Wall Street Journal said.

The European Commission had set a Monday deadline for the deficit target and the BBC said if no deal were reached by then, the Netherlands' AAA credit rating could be in danger.

Stef Blok, Liberal VVD parliamentary party leader, told Dutch TV spending cuts would involve "tough and painful measures that are necessary to bring the budget in order before next year."

He said cuts involved changes to the housing market and the right to dismiss workers but did not elaborate.

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