Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers dies aged 78

Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers dies aged 78

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Ruud Lubbers in 2005. File Photo
Ruud Lubbers

Ruud Lubbers, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister who guided his country through economic turmoil to prosperity and helped shape the foundations of the European Union, has died aged 78.

The Dutch government announced that Mr Lubbers died on Wednesday in Rotterdam surrounded by his wife and children. No cause of death was given.

Mr Lubbers headed a conservative administration from 1982 to 1994, trimming back the Dutch welfare state, persuading powerful labour unions to rein in their demands and ushering in years of growth.

However, his international reputation suffered in 2005 when he was forced to step down as UN high commissioner for refugees in a sexual harassment scandal.

He was sometimes criticised as too willing to compromise on principles, but supporters say he was a pragmatist and dealmaker.

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