The Netherlands: new debt to get out of the crisis?

During the traditional state opening of parliament on Tuesday, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands presented the government's budget for the next twelve months. Despite the already high level of national debt, Prime Minister Mark Rutte wants to make massive investments and take out new debt in an effort to bring the country's economy through the coronavirus crisis. The press is divided.

Open/close all quotes
NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Dancing on the vulcano

NRC Handelsblad considers it irresponsible to take out new debt in the current economic situation:

“The strange thing is that so little is known about the threat [of an economic crisis]. Everything has gone back to the way it was before, with the difference that much more is being bought on credit and a considerable proportion of the economy is dependent on the state. The whole scenario harks back to the orchestra on the Titanic, continuing to play while the luxury cruise ship sank. Investing to get out of the crisis is now the motto in The Hague. This is a daring and radical change of course compared to the approach taken in previous economic crises. The question is how much of a burden this will be for future generations.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

We can afford it

De Telegraaf sees the government's approach as a wise decision:

“The Netherlands can afford this. The national debt will rise to just over 60 percent in 2021. That's a very different situation from countries like Italy (134 percent before the corona crisis) or Greece (181 percent). ... The financial cushion didn't just appear out of the blue either. Under Prime Minister Mark Rutte the country's belt had been tightened, and a lot of demands were made of the citizens. With a clever policy the Netherlands can now absorb the blow. This underlines once again that our country must not pay for EU countries that have made cowardly decisions and mismanaged their finances in recent years.”