Thursday, October 25, 2012
Dutch PM Rutte close to coalition agreement - media
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands moved closer towards forming a new pro-European government after Prime Minister and Liberal leader Mark Rutte reached a preliminary agreement with the Labour Party on the main economic policies, Dutch media reported on Thursday.
A coalition agreement between Rutte's Liberals and Diederik Samsom's Labour Party is widely expected within the next week or so, media said.
Rutte won the most seats in the parliamentary election on September 12 and the party leaders have been in coalition talks ever since. Few details have leaked out, with both Rutte and Samsom refusing to discuss the negotiations publicly.
However, Dutch media reported on Thursday that agreement had been reached on a broadly pro-European stance and on several economic policies which will now be analysed by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) to assess their economic impact.
These include reforms of the labour and housing markets, considered important in making the Dutch economy more efficient and helping to revive a sagging property sector.
The agreement includes a limited reduction of the deductibility of mortgage interest rate costs for existing, interest-only mortgage holders, as well as measures that would make it easier for employers to fire people, and cuts in unemployment benefits, the newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported, although it said that last-minute changes were still possible.
(Reporting by Sara Webb and Gilbert Kreijger, editing by Rosalind Russell)