Dutch king announces “unprecedented” measures to tackle cost-of-living crisis


Dutch Princess Amalia, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien (left to right) wave to people on the balcony of Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, on Princes' Day, September 20, 2022.  The third Tuesday in September is Princes' Day in the Netherlands.  It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government's plans for the coming year.  (Photo: Xinhua)

Dutch Princess Amalia, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien (left to right) wave to people on the balcony of Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, on Princes’ Day, September 20, 2022. The third Tuesday in September is Princes’ Day in the Netherlands. It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government’s plans for the coming year. (Photo: Xinhua)


Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Princess Amalia wave to people in the glass carriage on Princes Day, September 20, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.  The third Tuesday in September is Princes' Day in the Netherlands.  It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government's plans for the coming year.  (Photo: Xinhua)

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Princess Amalia wave to people in the glass carriage on Princes Day, September 20, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands. The third Tuesday in September is Princes’ Day in the Netherlands. It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government’s plans for the coming year. (Photo: Xinhua)

Princess Amalia of the Netherlands rides in the glass carriage on Princes Day, September 20, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.  The third Tuesday in September is Princes' Day in the Netherlands.  It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government's plans for the coming year.  (Photo: Xinhua)

Princess Amalia of the Netherlands rides in the glass carriage on Princes Day, September 20, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands. The third Tuesday in September is Princes’ Day in the Netherlands. It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government’s plans for the coming year. (Photo: Xinhua)

Dutch Princess Amalia, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima (from L to R) wave to people on the balcony of Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, on Princes Day, September 20, 2022.  The third Tuesday in September is Princes' Day in the Netherlands.  It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government's plans for the coming year.  (Photo: Xinhua)

Dutch Princess Amalia, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima (from L to R) wave to people on the balcony of Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, on Princes Day, September 20, 2022. The third Tuesday in September is Princes’ Day in the Netherlands. It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government’s plans for the coming year. (Photo: Xinhua)

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King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands opened the new parliamentary year here on Tuesday. Speaking to the country’s joint session of the States General (Senate and House of Representatives), he acknowledged that the country was going through “a period of contradiction and uncertainty”.

The third Tuesday in September is Princes’ Day in the Netherlands. It marks the opening of the Dutch parliamentary season, and on this day the reigning monarch outlines the government’s plans for the coming year.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebrations have reopened to the public. The crowd included admirers but also protesters who were seen holding the Dutch flag upside down.

“We live in a time of contradictions and uncertainties,” said King Willem-Alexander. “It is contradictory for livelihoods to come under pressure and poverty to rise at a time of economic growth and low unemployment.”

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Faced with the need to restore purchasing power battered by the energy crisis, the government is planning an “unprecedented” package of measures worth more than 18 billion euros ($18 billion), aimed primarily at low- and middle-income households. “Even with a package of this magnitude, not all price increases can be fully offset,” he said.

Some of the measures are short-term and the government is aiming to introduce an energy price cap so people can continue paying their energy bills, he said.

He said the fuel tax break and energy allowance will continue in 2023, and sick pay and basic scholarships for students will increase in the coming year.

“These measures will be funded in part by a temporary special contribution from oil and gas companies,” he said.

The king called for “unity and resilience” at a time when “people are losing faith in the power of politics and government to solve problems”.

Princess Amalia, daughter of King Willem-Alexander and destined to be the next Queen, who turned 18 last year, attended the Prince’s Day events for the first time.

She accompanied her parents in the glass carriage for the journey from Noordeinde Palace to the Royal Theater where the king read his speech.

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It’s been a hectic year for the Dutch, with farmers repeatedly demonstrating against the government’s nitrogen policy, and the protesters were also in attendance on Tuesday, holding up inverted flags that have become their symbol.

The royal carriage was greeted with a loud mixture of cheers and boos on the way.

“People’s uncertainty about tomorrow and the more distant future is growing,” said the king, acknowledging public concerns about dwindling purchasing power and the housing crisis.

“But also about the major changes that are coming to us in areas such as the labor market, climate, energy and nitrogen,” he said. “All of these issues will shape the way we and our children will live, work, do business and live together.”

The king cited examples from the past to overcome the crisis. He was referring to the words of his grandmother, former Queen Juliana, at her inauguration in 1948.

“During these years of uncertainty, our parents and grandparents have shown unity and resilience,” he said. “Today, albeit under very different circumstances, the same thing is being asked of us.”



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