Cabinet is halting nitrogen policy to prevent CDA from quitting coalition

Members of the Cabinet met for hours on Friday to find a way to keep the CDA in the coalition. The party favors a looser approach to the issue of nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands after it was handed a brutal defeat earlier this month in the Provincial Council elections. A compromise was reached early in the evening, according to broadcaster NOS.

The CDA wants to renegotiate the nitrogen policy in the coalition agreement, Prime Minister Rutte told journalists after the meeting. However, although he confirmed the Cabinet will pause for the time being on the issue, he tried to reframe the situation, saying the public should not consider that the coalition is stepping on the brakes when it comes to emissions policy.

“The opposite is true, we are actually accelerating. Nevertheless, there are opposing views in the Cabinet,” he said.

D66, the second largest coalition party, stands opposed to the CDA. It insists that the Cabinet continue with plans to drastically reduce emissions levels by 2030. The policies significantly affect the agriculture and farming businesses in the Netherlands, which led to the BBB’s recent strong election victory.

All parties in the coalition agreed to delay further nitrogen policy developments for the time being with the CDA wanting to wait and see how the provincial governments shape up in the coming weeks. The BBB will be the largest party in all provincial governments, but it is not yet clear in which provinces they will be able to form a coalition.

The BBB wants to use the opportunity to tackle problems at a provincial level with a more nuanced approach, as opposed to the Cabinet dictating the situation from The Hague, according to NOS.

As the CDA wanting to renegotiate on nitrogen policy after the provincial governments are formed, Rutte said that could punt the issue down the road closer to the summer.

D66 said it was a fair compromise because it does not want the coalition to fall apart over the issue without taking the time to work out a solution, while seeing improvements in other environmental policy. The CDA thinks the ball is in the BBB’s court, and that the newcomer party must show progress in one direction or another before the CDA will take another step.

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