AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch government is presenting a budget for 2015 that for the first time in years will be focused less on financial austerity and more on security in light of international conflicts.
In a day full of pomp and ceremony, King Willem Alexander rode in a golden carriage to address both houses of parliament in the ceremonial 13th century "Hall of Knights" in The Hague.
He began his annual address Tuesday with an homage to the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people aboard, most of them Dutch citizens. He then announced an increase in defense spending. One in seven military jobs has been slashed since the 2008 financial crisis.
"Protecting the Dutch State is not only an internal affair," the king said, reading aloud a speech written for him by Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Cabinet. "An active foreign policy, focused on peace and safety in countries and regions where these are under pressure, is in our interest."
The budget is expected to also earmark extra funds for intelligence agencies to counter the threat from Dutch jihadists returning from Syria.
The Dutch economy is a bright spot amid the mostly gloomy European landscape, with a recovery gathering strength on the back of growing exports. Economists were mostly critical of Dutch government policy in the post-2008 period, as the Cabinet piled spending cuts on top of a downturn and burst housing bubble in order to meet the eurozone's 3 percent budget deficit limit.
The national economic forecasting bureau expects economic growth of 1.25 percent in 2015 from 0.75 percent this year, and a drop in the deficit to 2.2 percent from 2.7 percent.
The king said the Cabinet will announce "no further spending cuts, and some that had been announced earlier will no longer be carried out."
Income taxes and labor taxes will be cut marginally.