Troonrede – 2013 King Willem-Alexander announces need for change

POSTED: 09/18/13 12:44 PM

THE HAGUE – King Willem-Alexander started his first troonrede yesterday by expressing his appreciation for the “heart-warming start of my reign as king” for his mother (“an important source of inspiration”) and for the feelings of togetherness the royal family experienced after the death of his brother Friso.

From thereon, this is the text of the troonrede:

“The Netherlands struggles since five years with an economic crisis. The consequences make themselves increasingly felt. Unemployment is on the rise, the number of bankruptcies increases, houses are losing value, pensions are under pressure and the purchasing power is falling behind.

There are cautious signals that the end of the global crisis is in sight. That also offers a perspective for recovery for our country. Nevertheless, the Dutch economy is struggling with a number of specific problems of a structural nature, among them the debt burden of the government, households and the capital position of the banks.

The government wants to strengthen the growth potential of the Dutch economy. This forms the basis for creating jobs and for re-instating confidence among citizens and companies. The necessary reforms will take time and demand perseverance.

Due to social developments like ageing and globalization our labor market and our system of social facilities no longer meet the requirements of this time. The financial and economic crisis has made this clear once more. The government is not only aiming for the future affordability of facilities, but also for solidarity between generations and a balance between different income-groups. The mutual commitment in our country is traditionally strong. To make sure this remains that way we have to acknowledge that public regulations and facilities have to be adapted.

It is unmistakable that people in our current network and information society are more mature and independent than before. Combined with the need to diminish the government’s deficit this results in a subtle transition of the classic welfare state into a participation society. Everyone who is able to do this will be asked to take responsibility for his or her life and environment.

When people shape their own future, they do not only add value to their own life, but also to the society as a whole. This way citizens keep building together a strong country of self-conscious people. A country with a powerful and compact government, that gives space and offers opportunities wherever possible and that protects when necessary, to make sure that nobody falls between two stools. Every citizen must get the opportunity to fit the changes that are awaiting us into his own life.

The relationship between parliament and government is characterized by a lot of legislation in this coming year. Based on the governing accord and its execution in agreements with social partners and other social parties, the government will submit proposals to you.”

A prudent level of government debt, as the Central Planning Bureau called it earlier this year, remains crucial. Currently all citizens together are paying – even at the current low level of interest – €11 billion per year in interest on the government debt. When the debt grows and the interest goes up that interest burden will put more pressure on economic growth, the affordability of facilities and the income of people.

Without intervention the government deficit remains too high. The government will therefore propose additional measures of €6 billion. In 2014 the government will for the last time not pay a wage-addition. Agreements have been made in healthcare to have general practitioners provide a larger part of the care and to be stricter with providing insured care. The government will propose the bundling of several bonuses and regulations in one household-bonus that will become lower as the family-income increases.

The government will also introduce measures to stimulate the economy and employment in the short term. People will get the option to have dismissal-allowances that have been parked in a separate private limited company paid out faster against a favorable tax-tariff. The exemption of the tax on gifts will be increased, making it easier for younger generations to invest in a home. To increase the access to credit-facilities the government reserves €125 million this year. This will enable small and medium enterprises to invest in new activities. Entrepreneurs also have the option to fiscally write down investments faster. The government will – together with pension funds, insurance companies and banks – establish a national investment institution. The objective of this institution is to match large investors with suitable investment projects in the fields of care, energy, school buildings and infrastructure, and to stimulate the economy this way.

To keep as many people as possible employed and to move as many people as possible into the job market, the government makes €600 million available. As agreed upon in the social Accord, employers and employees will submit sector plans for this purpose. They are focused on more jobs and internships for youngsters, on reservation of skilled labor and on better supervision from work to work. To combat youth unemployment the government works together with municipalities, social partners and schools to get youngsters to work and to increase their chances in the job market. The Education Accord aims to create 3,000 additional jobs to help young teachers get a job or keep the one they have. The Technique Package creates a better connection between education and job market and combats the shortage of technically schooled professionals. The energy accord stimulates sustainable economic growth and creates 15,000 additional jobs. The environment law simplifies and speeds up urban procedures without affecting the quality of the living environment.

For the long term the government works on reforms that strengthen the growth potential of the economy and that adapt our public facilities to the requirements of this time.

The switch to a participation society is in particular visible in the social security and in the long-term care. The classic welfare state from the second half of the twentieth century has produces especially in these fields regulations that are unsustainable in their present form and that also do not connect any longer to the expectations people have. These days people want to make their own choices, organize their own life and take care of each other. Organizing care and social facilities close to people fits in this development. To achieve this, the government decentralizes government tasks in three fields.

Firstly, the government has proposed to you a new system of youth care starting in 2015. Children must grow up safely and they must be able to develop their talents to be able to participate in the society according to their abilities later on. The new system brings youth care via the municipalities closer to the child. Especially municipalities are able to deliver tailor-made work based on the specific situation of the child that needs help. They can do this together with other domains like living, education, safety and sports.

Secondly the government presents in the upcoming parliamentary year a proposal to thoroughly reform long-term care. That is necessary because the expenditures in this field keep increasing explosively. They currently stand at €2,200 per citizen per year. Lighter forms of long-term care will soon be executed by municipalities; they are better able to judge whether a staircase-elevator or compensation for taxis is really necessary. Compensation for household help remains available for people who really need it and cannot pay for it themselves. Medical care like nursing will fall under the regular healthcare insurance.

Thirdly municipalities and social partners will establish companies to help people on social welfare or with a handicap find a job. Employers and the government together guarantee together 125,000 additional jobs by 2026. If it appears that this number will not be met, companies will be obliged to recruit their personnel from people with a handicap. You will receive the relevant legislation this fall.

The unemployment law and the dismissal legislation will also be modernized. The WW (the law that regulates unemployment benefits – ed.) will get a more activating character. Social partners are taking the lead in supervision from work to work, for example by schooling. The government limits the publicly financed part of the WW to 24 months. Social partners take responsibility for the privately financed part of the WW. That gives an additional impulse to employers and employees to invest in the quality of people. Employees that are threatened with dismissal will receive a training-budget. Flex-workers will get more security and protection. The dismissal legislation will become more honest and simpler by establishing one dismissal trajectory for all employees.

For the housing market the government already took measures, like the obligatory paying off of new mortgages as a condition for the deduction of the mortgage-interest. Starting in 2014 the government wants to reduce the maximum deduction gradually to 38 percent. This will be done in annual steps of one half of a percent. The yield of this measure benefits people with a medium income through an extension of the third tax bracket. To reform the rental market, the government opts for income dependent rent-increases. The additional income from this measure is collected from the housing corporations through a landlord-levy.

The government prepares the Netherlands for the future with these domestic reforms. Due to the increasing international interrelationships there must also be unabated attention for developments outside of our frontiers.

Our open economy has brought us a lot, but it makes our country also more vulnerable in times of international crisis and stagnation. Cooperation with other countries, and certainly with those around us, is in the interest of the Netherlands. The past couple of years have shown what the developments in the European Union mean for the economic, social and political future of our country. The Netherlands must therefore continue to play an active role in Europe.

A solid foundation under the euro is crucial. This is why the government strongly supports the establishment of a bank union. Sustainable deficits and strengthening the economic structure keep asking for attention. Chances to strengthen the competitive position and the growth potential of the member-states are within the European internal market. It has in some fields still too many limitations. Trade with countries outside the European Union could also get an impulse by signing free trade agreements with amongst others the United States and Japan. A focal point for the government is the discussion about the tasks of the European Union. The member states are better able to regulate certain issues, like taxes, social security, pensions, care and education. The government will take the lead in this respect and engage in talks about these issues with other countries.

Outside the European Union the Netherlands has a long tradition of international cooperation. This became clear recently during the celebration of one hundred years Vredespaleis. Next year our country is hosting the Nuclear Security summit, where leaders from all over the world will make agreements to combat nuclear terrorism. The recent violence and the humanitarian emergency situation in Syria underline the need for an international legal order with a strong emphasis on humanitarian rights. Insecurity and instability in vulnerable regions influence our freedom, security and prosperity. This requires an army that is prepared for its tasks and that is able to operate inside and outside of the Netherlands to safeguard our country’s interests. In the report “In the interest of the Netherlands’ the government indicates concretely what those armed forces look like and which adjustments are necessary. All over the world Dutch men and women are active protecting the international legal order. They deserve our great appreciation and for their difficult work.

With the new agenda for help, trade and investments the government shapes the objective to link classic forms of development aid with the strengthening of trade relationships. It is a combination that offers mutual benefits. Dutch companies have a lot of experience in water management. With this expertise we help countries all over the world to solve their water problems.

The constitutional relationship between the Netherlands and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom changed in 2010. Since that time there is more attention for economic cooperation. That is beneficial to all parties. It also contributes to the necessary financial independence and stability of the Caribbean islands. I will visit all six of them shortly together with Queen Máxima.

To maintain the strength and the quality of our society, changes that are bearable for everyone are necessary. The government wants to work with full force on the assignment that flows from this, together with you. The questions you will deal with are complex and far reaching. You may know yourself supported in this heavy task by the awareness that may are wishing you wisdom and that they pray with me for strength and for God’s blessing.

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