There is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty, but the Netherlands is and remains a good country to live in. That was the message King Willem-Alexander expressed on behalf of the government in the Great Church in The Hague. “A country that can measure macroeconomically with the best. And if we continue to meet the future together, we can handle a lot.”
However, the king stressed that the government is holding hands with regard to the rule of law and legal certainty. “The handling of earthquake damage in Groningen has been too viscous for too long. In the surcharge affair, the government has literally and figuratively wronged people.”
For both affairs, errors must be corrected and compensation should be paid as soon as possible. “That remains an absolute priority for the government.”
The king mentioned major domestic themes that need to be addressed: the housing market, nitrogen and opportunity inequality. In addition, the king spoke of “all-encompassing problems”, such as climate change and shifting power relations on the world stage.
“Climate change came close this summer as Limburg residents saw their homes flooded,” said Willem-Alexander. He called the flood “a harsh warning.” The planned measures to combat climate change should be monitored and accelerated where necessary.
“It is quite explicit that many experience our time as a period of great and inevitable changes,” said the king:
“Geopolitical developments came close due to the dramatic images from Afghanistan.” The king said that the Afghan people are waiting for an “uncertain future” and appointed that it was “a hard hit” for Dutch Afghanistan veterans.
The king mentioned questions he said people have in everything that is going on. “It makes sense that people wonder: what do all these developments mean to me personally? For our way of life? For my future and my childrens?”
According to Willem-Alexander, the Dutch are satisfied with their lives on average, but they are concerned about the country and the world around them and that is more polarization. “The unrest and uncertainty are still fueled by the increasing number of polarizing social debate nationally and internationally.”
Like last year, the king had a focus on corona. He thanked all kinds of professions and expressed condolences to all who have been affected. Corona hits us in school and work. In the lack of touch. And above all, in our sense of security and trust.”
King had the time
The king did not have much politics to tell, says political reporter Arjan Noorlander. “What struck me the most is that it allowed him to have the time as well. Normally, the Throne is often a shopping list of cabinet plans, making it quite boring. But the cabinet is demissionary and those measures are actually barely there and so the king took the time extensively to look back on the corona year, to thank people who helped. Actually, little has been announced.”