Session: ‘Implementation of the 2013 European Cycle and priorities for 2014’
I would like to start to thank the European Parliament for organising this interparliamentary conference. This gives us the opportunity to meet and exchange views on how to deal with the widely spread economic downturn in Europe.
A majority in Dutch parliament is in favour of coordination of economic and budget policies of EU member states as means to help European economies prosper. The process of the European Semester contributes to this common goal. Coordination is not exclusively relevant to countries in distress. As outlets of all member states are interdependent, we all benefit of better cooperation.
Firstly, I would like to recap the 2013 reforms and then look at priorities in 2014.
Eight quarters of recession have had their impact on the Netherlands. Disposable income has not raised in the last four years. 2013 was known for rising unemployment and high inflation. The Netherlands has had to deal with instable parliamentary majorities for reforms. Through agreements with unions and Dutch Business Europe in 2013 the societal commitment has risen for reform. The agreements cover all recommendations for the European semester.
Social security for unemployed will become less rigid, but at the same time more jobs for disabled will be offered. In the housing market social housing rents are set to a maximum, this maximum will be released and rise with the income of tenants. For homeowners tax deduction of mortgage interest will be reduced to a lower level and marginal tax levels will be lowered accordingly. In longterm health care we have made an agreement with local government and health care providers to decentralise parts of long term care. We believe that local authorities are better equipped to take the demand of their citizens into account and are better able to deliver made-to-measure solutions.
In pensions, step-by-step we are on the road to connect pension age with life expectancy and have prolonged the period people pay pensionpremium. We have struggled to deal with intergenerational solidarity, so that younger people are able to build up pension for themselves and not only for the elderly today.
The year of 2014 will be crucial to implement all agreements into law. Fortunately this year we see light at the end of the tunnel, for 2014 the forecast is a mere half percent of GDP.
The Dutch parliament has given the recommendations a rightful place in the yearly budget, so Cabinet ministers have to clearify how they have dealt with the recommendations of the European Semester.
Finally, I want to appeal all MP’s of member states to contact each other in this time of crises, to learn from each others struggles and solutions. I have given a brief insight in how the Netherlands deal with their recommendations for reform. We would like to know how you deal with your countryspecific recommendations!