Argument in cabinet after nitrogen statements CDA, relationships on edge

โ€œI didn‘t see this interview coming.โ€ Deputy Prime Minister Kaag (D66) has the floor, just before the start of the first cabinet meeting after the summer. โ€œI have to say honestly that this does something to me,โ€ says nitrogen minister Van der Wal (VVD) a few hours later. In the morning she is still too stunned to respond, Prime Minister Rutte has already done so. โ€œTaking a little space as a party leader who is also in a cabinet should be possible, but it goes along the edge of what is possible under state law.โ€

Even before discussion leader Remkes has completed his talks to smooth the nitrogen dossier again, CDA leader Hoekstra has put the relations in the coalition on edge today. VVD and D66 are furious that Hoekstra says in morning newspaper AD that meeting the nitrogen targets by 2030 is no longer sacred for the CDA.

According to Hoekstra, the connection with society is falling away. He believes that every effort should be made to restore that connection again. According to the CDA leader, this could be done by sticking less tightly to the goals.

Minister Van der Wal has been trying to explain for months why these goals are of great importance. โ€œWe don’t have a choice,โ€ is her story. Nature needs to be restored and if we don‘t, the judges no longer approve a (building) permit, she explains day after day.

Working on your own party profile

Even though administrators try to prevent further escalation after Hoekstra’s statements by emphasizing that the Remkes process is still in full swing and the goals for 2030 remain afloat, it is clear that the statements have hit like a bomb.

Prime Minister Rutte, who makes it clear in the morning that Hoekstra‘s interview was on the edge as far as he was concerned, tries to name the facts during his press conference. โ€œNo one of the four coalition parties has submitted a request to adjust the nitrogen part of the coalition agreementโ€. Minister Van der Wal also emphasizes that the coalition agreement to emit half less nitrogen by 2030 still stands.

At the

same time, Rutte also talks about Hoekstra’s โ€œworking on his own party profileโ€. Some understanding of the desire for some โ€œcolor on the cheeksโ€ of a coalition partner must be there, says Rutte, but it should not occur too often.

The statements of the CDA leader have put the coalition in an even more complicated position. According to Van der Wal, the conversation in the cabinet today was โ€œpenetratingโ€. She admits that she โ€œdidn‘t have her most fun morning when she opened the morning paperโ€. It is reported that she had already been partly informed the night before and her response was less diplomatic at the time.

Debate about statements

Largest opposition party PVV has now amassed a majority to debate next Tuesday about Hoekstra’s statements and what they mean for nitrogen policy.

Coalition parties will mainly have questions about the timing of the CDA leader. First endorse the nitrogen policy and then vent your reservations via the media while interlocutor Remkes is still busy?

Opposition parties will mainly have questions about the significance for the further nitrogen process. Kaag, Van der Wal and Rutte gave the formal answer to this today: the goals set in the coalition agreement are standing straight up. How firm the coalition itself stands after today will also be a question from opposition parties next Tuesday.