(EurActiv) — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the liberal party leader who is battling for re-election next week, says Greece should not get more financial aid from Europe.
During a televised election debate on 4 September, the leader of the VVD stressed that Greece had already been given support twice and received loans of €240 billion and that is “enough”.
“The Greeks are in a better position because of it, but I say ‘enough is enough’,” Rutte said.
The election campaign in the Netherlands has highlighted growing discontent over Europe, in particular over the high cost of bailing out weaker eurozone members.
The Dutch voters are also unhappy with the pressure for belt-tightening at home where welfare benefits are being steadily whittled away by budget cuts.
“I want to keep Greece with us, but the dikes around Greece are high enough. Leaving the euro may become unavoidable. That is a decision for Greece,” he added.
Subsequently, Rutte was attacked by all the other party leaders for his comments.
Labour leader Diederik Samsom, who has so far not ruled out supporting Rutte in a new coalition after the election, said the prime minister has made similar threats before. Still Rutte had decided to send more cash to Greece.
“What should people think?” Samsom asked.
Alexander Pechtold, leader of D66, the social-liberal party, asked Rutte: “Will you not do all you can to save the Dutch economy? What should industry think about this? What are you afraid of?”
Third bailout ruled out
Rutte replied that countries in trouble have to do their best and if they don’t, then they cannot count on support.
“I am against a third bailout package,” the Dutch prime minister said.
Simon O’Connor, spokesperson to Economics and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, declined on Wednesday to comment on Rutte’s statement at a press briefing in Brussels.
Dutch commentators eventually said Rutte’s comments on Greece had been prompted by the rise in support for both Labour and the Socialists.
However, two polls on Tuesday published before the debate showed that Rutte and the VVD would win 34 seats next week, making it the largest party in the 150-seat chamber. Both the Labour Party and the Socialist Party are expected to get 27 seats.