From minimum wage to childcare: a roundup of Rutte IV’s proposal

It’s official, the newly formed Dutch coalition has laid out their plans in a 50-page document, tackling everything from climate change and the housing shortage, to a much-needed increase to the minimum wage — and more! 

This “recovery cabinet” is one of reconciliation and public spending, brandishing the motto: “Looking after each other and looking ahead to the future,” the NOS reports

While the leaks that broke earlier this week appear to have been right on the money, the proposal is even more generous than anticipated. Looks like the wait was well worth it! 

Getting down to the specifics:

The rather frail four-party coalition of Rutte’s VVD, D66 (Democrats 66), CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) and ChristenUnie (Christian Union) have indicated that their proposal will amount to €13 billion in spending, and take up until at least 2023 to be implemented.

READ MORE |3 big takeaways from the new Dutch coalition agreement 

Let’s talk about some of the highlights of Rutte IV’s plan. 

Climate change

Climate change has been at the forefront of the negotiations and the new government intends to create a climate fund of €35 billion within the next few years — better late than never! 

This plan has set ambitious targets for the government to combat global warming by cutting CO2 emissions by 55%, with the aim of reaching climate net neutrality by no later than 2050. To facilitate this process, a Minister of Climate and Energy will be appointed for the first time. 🤗

And that’s not the only new position that will be created. The new government also strives to tackle emissions from the agricultural sector, particularly the issue of nitrogen which has long been under public debate. 

A National Program for Rural Areas will be created in order to aid the transition to “circular agriculture”. This means that another €25 billion will be made available until 2035. 

According to the plan, gas extraction in Groningen will finally be phased out, but operations in the North Sea are still under consideration. Additionally, the plan details various airline and motor vehicle taxes to be rolled out in the near future.

Nuclear energy

Going hand in hand with climate policy is nuclear energy. Nuclear energy has reemerged as means of reaching climate neutrality across Europe. So how will the Dutch cabinet approach this issue?  

The answer is simple: power plants. The cabinet is already making plans for the construction of two new nuclear power plants, as well as maintaining the existing Borssele plant.

While renewable energies remain costly and somewhat unattainable, many governments are returning to the idea of absolution through nuclear energy. We’d all like to believe that we’ve learned a thing or two since Fukushima & Chernobyl.😳

Taxes

Spelling good news after two years of pandemic malaise, a tax relief of €3 billion will be provided for low and middle incomes brackets, and workers and families. However, the plan includes an overall tax increase of €1.8 billion and a sugar tax?

Yep, a sugar tax. To combat “diseases of affluence”, a tax on sugar will be introduced and existing taxes on sugary drinks and tobacco products will also see an increase. On top of this, the VAT on fruit and vegetables will be reduced to 0%! 🍉🍇

Education

The education sector is getting fully revamped! The coalition parties have set aside €800 million for primary and secondary education, meaning that primary school teachers will earn considerably more. In addition to reducing class sizes by employing more teachers to better the quality of education.

Wave goodbye to student loans

Higher education is also getting a much-needed makeover! This year headlines circulated after news broke that the average dutch student debt reached €15,000, reaching a combined €24.4 billion. 

This has become a real concern for many dutch students whose siblings studied nearly debt-free just a few years ago and whose university experience is starkly different from their German or Nordic neighbours. 

The new government has guaranteed that the loan system will disappear and the basic grant will return at last, hoera! This will also apply to current students who couldn’t access the basic grant in recent years: “They are given the choice between a discount on their student debt or a study voucher. An extra €1 billion is earmarked for this,” as stated in the agreement.

Housing

The government aims to develop more flexible housing, affordable rental housing, renovation, sustainability and lessen the power of landlords and housing associations. In addition to building up to 100,000 homes per year.

The so-called jubelton will also be thrown out. This allowed parents to donate large amounts of tax-free money to help their children buy their own home — who knew? 

Digitization  

An algorithm supervisor will be appointed to monitor that algorithms are legally checked for transparency, discrimination and arbitrariness, in addition to ensuring that facial recognition is not applied without strict legal control. Watch out Leiden University

The coalition also wants to tackle the power of the large tech and platform companies, as the EU (and now even the US government), has been trying to do for years. 

Cultural sector 

The cultural sector will be receiving a much needed structural investment of €170 million, (about the same amount paid for a single Rembrandt 😉) to enable growth, innovation and recovery to the pandemic-stricken industry. 

Healthcare 

In a somewhat controversial move, the forthcoming cabinet will curb healthcare expenditure in the coming years. Specifically, the coalition wants to structurally curb growth by €4.5 billion. 

Some have called this decision an incomprehensible backstab to the healthcare sector. Additionally, there are several proposals to broaden the options for abortion and euthanasia, such as amending the embryo law. 

Minimum wage 

The fairly low Dutch minimum wage will be gradually increased by 7.5%, woohoo! Not to mention unemployment is at its lowest point since 2003, now just 2.7%. 

READ MORE | Salaries in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide to Dutch wages

Childcare 

In a plea to remedy the scandal that continues to plague the new government, childcare allowance for working parents will cover 95% of the cost, with the intent to eventually cover 100%. 

The plan is intended to lessen the burden on lower-income families and decrease bureaucratic red-tape that prevents people from accessing welfare. 


Phew! That’s a lot of information to take in — but the more you know! 

What do you think of the new Dutch government’s plans? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Ale__Mi/Depositphotos

Caitlin Elston-Weidinger 🇩🇪🇺🇸
Though Caitlin was born in Berlin, she was raised between the beaches of Florida and mountainous Oregon but has opted for a university career in the cosy Netherlands. Four years into her Dutch journey, you’ll find Caitlin ranting about politics, upcycling jewellery for her online store, or roaming around with her analogue camera.

4 COMMENTS

      • We did not say that nuclear energy is safe, but that leaders across Europe are reconsidering nuclear power as means of mitigating the climate crisis!

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