The Irish Times view on new Dutch government: trouble brewing for the EU

The new coalition is led by the radical right party of anti-Islamist firebrand Geert Wilders

It has taken the four-party coalition that hopes to rule in the Netherlands six months so far to agree a common programme. Its failure to agree a prime minister – one nominee, former Labour minister Ronald Plasterk, withdrew from consideration on Tuesday – means further delay and an extension of his caretaker role for outgoing PM Mark Rutte.x

The new coalition, an alliance led by the radical right Party for Freedom (PVV) of anti-Islamist firebrand Geert Wilders, has however agreed a programme of action which will set it from day one on a collision course with Brussels and fellow EU member states.

The PVV and its coalition partners, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, a centre-right party from the outgoing government, the centrist New Social Contract, and the populist Farmer Citizen Movement, hold 88 seats in the House of Representatives, a comfortable majority. But their refusal to accept the toxic Wilders as prime minister, and their leaders’ willingness a to stand aside from the role, has led to a difficult search for candidates with sufficient experience.

With the upcoming European elections also expected to mark a shift towards the hard right, consolidating gains made in member states by the likes of Georgia Meloni in Italy, the new Dutch coalition will add political weight to that trend. It apparently inteds to defy EU law over recently agreed migration policy, specifically burden-sharing provisions. It promises to keep out asylum seekers, and to roll back climate measure along with parts of the Green Deal that are seen as an attack on farmers. . Rutte’s government’s attempts to compensate farmers over emission reductions led to mass farmer protests last year which spread across Europe. Its successor’s plans are a recipe for confrontation at the heart of the union.


The coalition is also committed to cutting projected contributions to the EU budget by € 1.6 billion annually to fund domestic spending, a move which will hugely complicate the opening of the next round of EU budget talks.

The EU is in for an uncomfortably rocky ride.