‘Irresponsible’ to deduct additional defense investment from climate action, says finance ministry

Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag thinks it is inevitable that sanctions against Russia will hurt Dutch prosperity. The Cabinet must take this into account, as well as the additional expenditure for Defense, among others. However, she believes that these expenditures should not be made to the detriment of the fight against climate change. This seems “irresponsible” to Kaag, she told Nieuwsuur.

Kaag responded to statements by Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, who told De Telegraaf on Wednesday that the Cabinet “must go back to the drawing board” with its plans. Hoekstra wants to significantly increase the defense budget in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For this, the coalition agreement between VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie may have to be broken, he said. “It may be uncomfortable for The Hague, but geopolitics does not adhere to the Dutch coalition agreement,” Hoekstra said.

Kaag thinks that statement goes too far, she told Nieuwsuur. “Of course you look where necessity has to break the law, but I think that’s something different than going back to the drawing board. So you’d think you have to produce a completely new design.” She is against cutting climate spending to free up money for defence, also given the alarming IPCC report released this week. Knowing this, she would find it “crazy, shall we say irresponsible” to strike out for each other.

Hoekstra was finance minister in the previous Rutte cabinet. Kaag was Minister of Foreign Affairs.