Dutch nationalist leader pushes anti-euro referendum

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Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was "not yet convinced" by a report commissioned by nationalist leader Geert Wilders that the country would be better off if it would reintroduce the Dutch guilder, the Dutch media reported.

Wilders, leader of the Freedom party (PVV), has reportedly put pressure on Rutte to call a referendum on whether the Netherlands should abandon the euro.

PVV is the third largest party in the Netherlands. Although it is not in the governing coalition, PVV has been an active supporter of Rutte's conservative cabinet, a cooperation which was laid down in a "support agreement".

The report commissioned by Wilders says a return to the guilder would cost the treasury €51 billion. Nevertheless, Wilders is convinced that the benefits would outweigh the costs because the treasury would not have to dish out €75 billion in the next couple of years to keep the European currency afloat.

Wilders presented on Monday (5 March) the report produced by a London consultancy, Lombard Street Research. Saving weaker euro countries like Greece, Italy and possibly Spain could cost the country €125 billion by 2015, the report says.

Several Dutch opposition parties, including Labour, left-wing liberals D66 and the GroenLinks want the report evaluated by the government's macro-economic advisory agency CPB. However, Rutte said the cabinet will not ask the agency to do so.

EURACTIV asked the European Commission if it found the report's findings realistic and if any eurozone country would be better off returning to its former currency.

A Commission spokesperson declined to comment, adding that the Commission's position as to "the value of the euro for Europe" was well known.

Wilders' name was widely mentioned in Brussels circles in recent days after his party launched a website that collects complaints against Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who cause "nuisance" to society. The Commission has vigourously condemned the website, but Rutte has refused to do so.

Rutte is the only EU leader opposing Bulgaria and Romania's accession to Schengen, on the grounds that these countries cannot be trusted to keep the EU common borders because of corruption. But a more important reason appears to be that Rutte has committed to PVV to uphold the veto.

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