“The Netherlands looks attractive, but must continue to work on social security,” King Willem-Alexander said on Tuesday during the speech from the throne in the Royal Theater in The Hague. A theme that was already discussed last year, but is still relevant, he emphasized.
“Anyone who looks at the Netherlands from outside sees an attractive country. But behind the positive image lies a permanent message to continue working on social security,” the king said. He called it a “great responsibility” for politics and government. “It is a time of great change.”
To tackle poverty, the king listed a number of measures that have already been leaked. For example, the outgoing cabinet is coming up with a purchasing power package of 2 billion euros. This should help people with low incomes. Rent allowance will also increase next year, making housing cheaper.
In addition, the Energy Emergency Fund will be extended. This gives people who can no longer pay the high energy bills a safety net. The employed person’s tax credit will also be increased, so that working pays more.
Work will continue in many policy areas, even now that the cabinet is outgoing, the king promised. The government still has to make decisions in the near future, including on the topics of “migration and integration and their effects on our society”.
Willem-Alexander mentioned work and study migration and sufficient asylum reception as examples. “Moreover, negotiations on the Common European Asylum System are not at a standstill, nor are the discussions within the EU about making the influx manageable.”
War in Ukraine remains a major agenda item
The war in Ukraine is still a major agenda item. “The Dutch government will continue to do everything possible, in close cooperation, to ensure that Russian aggression stops and Ukrainians can live in safety again,” the king said.
Many Dutch people feel involved in the war in Ukraine. “Our support remains as great as ever.”
The Dutch government continues to work closely with the European Union and NATO allies. As the home of the International Criminal Court, the Netherlands feels a special responsibility for preparing for the trial of war crimes, Willem-Alexander said.
The war shows the unity of the EU. “Europe must become less dependent on Russia, China and other countries. This applies, among other things, to energy, raw materials and medicines,” the king said.
‘Good democracy belongs to all of us’
According to Willem-Alexander, the war also makes us think about our own democracy. “Democracy, freedom and the rule of law are under pressure worldwide. Not only far away, but also on our own continent. That is why we must cherish and protect our own rule of law.”
The king also spoke about “maintenance of democracy”. According to him, this is not just something for the government. “It requires something from all of us. Democracy is much more than voting. It is an attitude. It is the willingness to listen and understand other points of view.”
He fears that confidence in democratic institutions will decline if that does not happen. And that damages “the social fabric that holds us together as a society.”
The king, who read the speech from the throne for the first time wearing reading glasses, opened his speech with a look back on his reign so far. He mentioned, among other things, the corona crisis, the benefits scandal, the climate, the earthquake damage in Groningen and the MH17 disaster. At the same time, the king spoke of “hundreds of heart-warming visits and thousands of inspiring encounters”.