Introduction

The VVD  and the PvdA  share an unshakeable belief in the future, an unswerving confidence in what the Dutch people can together achieve and a deep conviction that in the years ahead our country needs a stable and decisive government that can unleash the forces and energies the Netherlands needs to succeed.

As broad-based people’s parties whose support spans many layers of society, we see it as our task to build bridges. Between The Hague and society at large. Between urban and rural areas. Between rich and poor. Between young and old. Between the highly educated and the less educated. Between those who view change as a challenge and those who view it with concern. This coalition wants to strengthen the ties that bind us together in the Netherlands and enhance the energies and optimism of our people.

This coalition agreement reflects our search for the best of both worlds. We have not allowed differences to stand in our way and we have not sought to obstruct each other’s plans. We seek inspiration in what unites us. Our country needs to work together. That is what the people called for on 12 September.

So we are reaching out to each other and getting the best out of each other. This creates scope for major reforms and much-needed breakthroughs: in health care, the housing market,  the labour market,  foreign policy and the energy sector. Reforms and breakthroughs that will help the Netherlands emerge stronger from the current crisis.

One of the coalition parties wants to guard against a government that gets in the way. The other wants to guard against a government that leaves people to their fate. Together, we choose a government that sees people not primarily as consumers but as citizens. Citizens who will shape the future of the Netherlands both individually and collectively. We choose a dependable government that offers opportunities and sets limits, one that offers maximum protection and causes minimum hindrance.

We are convinced that creating scope for enterprise and initiative is good for our society and our citizens. And we understand that it is both sensible and socially responsible to help those who are not able to keep up. People themselves bear primary responsibility for their success in life, and we want to offer them the best possible opportunities for achieving it. But we will never turn our backs on those who cannot get by without an extra helping hand.

We want the Netherlands to emerge from the crisis stronger than it was before. Our policy will be solid and sound: we aim to put our public finances in order and to promote innovation and sustainable technologies. And it will socially responsible: we will share the costs fairly and organise our system of benefits and services so that they remain accessible for future generations. We will make extra investments in education and set higher quality standards for teachers and school heads. This, too, is solid, sound and socially responsible.

A strong economy benefits from high-quality public services. But we will only achieve such quality if we give professionalism greater recognition and more free rein. Those providing first-line services in health care, education and law enforcement must be able to take pride in their work and feel supported by their managers. It is essential for them to be given sufficient trust, freedom and time to do their jobs properly. We should resist the urge to respond to every incident with new regulations. We should reward demonstrated professionalism with greater autonomy and less supervision. Pay structures should be designed in such a way that true professionals do not need to flee to management positions to achieve promotion.

Work remains the quickest route to a good income and economic independence. Work must pay. And work must be decent. We will therefore reduce the differences between flexible and permanent employment. When a job comes to an end, the focus must be on finding new work. We will not accept people sitting at home for no reason, and we will hold both job seekers and employers to account in this respect.

Work is also of crucial importance where the integration of newcomers is concerned. That is why we will set strict requirements for people who come to the Netherlands by choice: they will have to have an education, learn the Dutch language, prepare properly and have the capacity to support themselves. Those who fulfil these requirements and play their part in our common future is and will always be welcome.

A fair society is a safe society. One in which residents and entrepreneurs feel supported by the authorities, and where the police are a visible presence on the streets, enforcing clear rules effectively.

Europe has brought us peace, security and prosperity. When Europe thrives, so do we. Many of our jobs and much of our prosperity are rooted in a European market where Dutch businesses sell their products and services. We have benefited greatly from the euro. The end of the single currency would mean great uncertainty for our economy and prosperity. We are willing to help other countries in order to strengthen the European Union and the euro, but not at any price. Our support must go hand in hand with proven efforts on the part of member states to solve their financial problems and strengthen their economies.

And now we set to work, with the interests of this fine country and its people at heart. Open to the world around us. With a sense of urgency, certainly, but with energy for the long haul, too, and with ideas that transcend a single term of office. Now we set to work: seizing opportunities, solving problems and building bridges.

Mark Rutte                    Diederik Samsom