The European Commissioner’s recent brazen proposal has angered the Dutch farmers, whose anger has been building up in recent months over the government’s announcements to reduce nitrogen emissions. Despite knowing what a sensitive subject compulsory farm buyouts are in the Netherlands, Timmermans proposed exactly that to the farmer’s party BBB, which won the recent elections. The current Dutch nitrogen policy makes compulsory buybacks a strict last resort, according to foreign media reports.
The European Union’s climate leader Frans Timmermans has shown a willingness to discuss the much-debated Dutch nitrogen policy with Caroline van der Plas, leader of the Dutch agrarian interest party BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) – a party which recently made strong gains in regional elections. But his proposal treads dangerously close to the limits of the Dutch farmers’ patience. His advice is to buy back agriculture, which is the last option on their list of possible solutions.
“The Netherlands can only achieve its objectives by buying back farmers and greening agriculture,” said the EU climate leader Frans Timmermans. However, compulsory farmers’ buyouts are a very sensitive issue in Dutch politics. The BBB farmers party, which will soon be the largest party in the Senate after last week’s landslide victory in the provincial elections, is, like the majority in Parliament, strongly opposed to forced expropriation. The current Dutch policy on nitrogen makes compulsory purchases the last available option.
The BBB party caused quite a stir last week when it polled the most votes in the Dutch regional elections, making it the favourite to become the largest single party in the Dutch Senate. The party, which was only founded in 2019, has been strengthened by its opposition to Dutch nitrogen policy in the wake of the nitrogen crisis, as well as its strong support for farmers and agrarian interests.
A European Union tailor-made for political officials
According to media reports, Timmermans welcomed van der Plas’ intention to come to Brussels, but arrogantly added that “European rules” would be explained to them. It should be noted that it is precisely forced expropriation that is one of the main reasons why Dutch farmers have taken to the streets in large numbers and will certainly not agree to the proposal. However, Timmermans’ Chief of Staff, Diederik Samsom, had previously advised the Dutch government to forcefully buy out a number of Dutch farmers in light of the nitrogen crisis, which led to harsh criticism from the BBB party and the ruling VVD, although he later stated that he was just passing on a message from Brussels and that this was not actually his advice.
All this confused Van der Plas, who said that she found it strange that such advice was being shared, especially as the subject of expropriation is a very burdensome one. The ministries are supposedly saying one thing one moment and another the next. “I don’t believe anything that is said here anymore,” the BBB head added, writes Euractiv.