New Dutch Government to Crack Down on Migration, Green Measures

(Bloomberg) -- Dutch coalition parties seeking to form a government six months after an election say they plan to significantly reduce migration and undo environmental measures, in a rightward shift that may draw the ire of the Netherlands’ largest companies as well as the European Union.

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The parties — led by Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party — agreed on fewer international students, expatriates and especially asylum seekers, according to the coalition agreement that was presented early Thursday. The new government wants to invoke emergency legislation to limit the inflow of migrants and will seek an opt out from the EU’s migration policy.

The policy blueprint underscores the most hard-right shift for the country in decades, as migration tops voters’ concerns in Europe. Nationalist and far-right parties have moved into positions of power throughout the EU, including in Italy and Sweden.

“A new wind is about to blow in this country,” said Wilders, who promised the strictest asylum policy ever, including new border controls. “We can be proud again of this beautiful Netherlands. The Netherlands will be ours again.”

A law to reduce tax benefits for expatriates and a bill to to cap the flow of foreign students entering the country had already angered companies that rely heavily on international talent. Many corporate heads have spoken out against these policies, with some even warning that they would instead expand overseas as they follow the talent.

Read More: Dutch Business Is Pushing Back Against Anti-Immigration Politics

The four parties – Wilders’ PVV, the liberal VVD of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the center-right NSC and the populist Farmer-Citizen Movement – also stand ready to get rid of measures implemented by the previous government to limit nitrogen emissions by farmers that are harmful to the Dutch environment.

As the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products, the Netherlands aimed to halve nitrogen emissions in line with EU policy after intensive farming devastated biodiversity in the country. Farmers rallied for months against the measures, which they fear would put some of them out of business. The new government wants to renegotiate the nitrogen policy with Brussels.

Listed-companies, however, will welcome some parts of the new government plans. The parties want to get rid of a 15% tax on share buybacks that would have gone into force next year, as reported by Bloomberg earlier this week.

Read More: Dutch Coalition Parties Agree to Scrap Tax on Share Buybacks

Ukraine can breathe a sigh of relief. The Netherlands was one of its biggest backers under Rutte, who announced the country would donate billions of euros worth of military equipment including F-16s to the war-torn country. Wilders was skeptical about supporting Ukraine but the agreement pledges to support Ukraine “politically, military, financially and morally” against the Russian aggression and includes the proposal to anchor the NATO 2% norm in the Dutch law.

In March, Wilders was forced to abandon his bid to become the next prime minister, in a compromise to advance talks after previous efforts to forge alliances with rivals hit setbacks. It remains to be seen who Wilders and his allies will tap as the leader of this new government.

Here are some of the other details from the coalition agreement:

  • The parties want to explore moving the Dutch embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

  • The new government wants to be critical toward EU enlargement

  • The deal sees €1.6 billion less in Dutch contributions to the EU in 2028

  • The new government also wants to build two extra nuclear plants in addition to the two planned ones

--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss.

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