Gloomy Troonrede focuses on economic crisis – Caribbean gets one paragraph in Queen Beatrix’s speech

POSTED: 09/19/12 1:56 PM

THE HAGUE – H.M. Queen Beatrix spent six lines on the Kingdom’s Caribbean part in the Troonrede at the opening of the new parliamentary year yesterday: “In the Caribbean part of the Kingdom relatively small countries are facing big challenges. The economic crisis is felt there as well. The new constitutional structures are still young. Transparency and manageable government finances are very important for the population and for the confidence in the government. After the constitutional reform in October 2010 investments are being made in improvements on the islands of Bonaire, Statia and Saba, amongst others in hospital care, the quality of school buildings and teachers, and sewage water purification.”

Reactions to the queen’s speech were mixed. NTC Handelsblad mentioned as most important point the statement that the Netherlands is facing a challenge that requires a lot of resilience. “The financial and economic crisis that holds the world in its grasp since 2008 is hitting the Netherlands hard,” the queen said.

Keeping the growth of government finances manageable is an important point according to the Queen. She referred to 1813 when the French occupation ended and the foundation was laid for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Prince Willem-Frederik – later King William I – issued a proclamation. “In it he did not only speak about the regained freedom but also about the big importance of restoring prosperity.”

A lot of resilience was asked from the community at that time, the queen said. “Two centuries later, in a completely different social and constitutional context, our country is again facing a challenge that requires a lot of resilience. Economic recovery does not happen by itself.”

Queen Beatrix also stressed the importance of European cooperation. This has brought the Netherlands a lot, but currently the system is under pressure, she said. “For the Netherlands that earns a large part of its national income in Europe, this cooperation is essential. The government has therefore a strong interest in the structural improvement of the monetary union and the internal market.”

NRC Handelsblad’s political editor Thijs Niemantsverdriet noted that the Troonrede was relatively brief compared to previous years. “It fits in a series of Troonredes that speak about the international crisis that is hitting the country. This is the case since 2008. This time the queen expressed herself even a bit firmer. The tone was gloomier, at least as far as the part about the crisis is concerned.”

Niemantsverdriet notes that the speech hardly mentions achievements of the Rutte-cabinet. In one paragraph she mentions the establishment of the national police and cost-cutting measures in healthcare. “If that is all two years of the Rutte-cabinet has yielded, it is of course a bit poor. But okay, they’ve been there for just one-and-a-half year so it is not surprising that the harvest is modest. At the same time the speech spent twice as much space on the Spring-Accord. That says a lot.”

Niemantsverdriet remarked that all highlights from the Spring Accord were mentioned but there was not a word about the so-called forenzen-tax – a plan to tax compensation employees receive for traveling from their home to their work. “This measure is controversial and with the negotiations about the formation in mind, she probably did not want to taunt the Labor Party. The VVD also prefers to get rid of that measure.”

And what about the reference to 1813 and the upcoming celebration of 200 years of Kingdom? Niemantsverdriet: “Maybe Rutte made an attempt, via the queen, to emphasize what the country has conquered and gone through in the past and what is ahead of us in the coming years.”


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