Wopke Bastiaan Hoekstra (born 30 September 1975) is a Dutch politician serving as Minister of Finance in the Third Rutte cabinet since 26 October 2017. He is a member of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).
Hoekstra was born in Bennekom, Gelderland and studied law at Leiden University where he completed one year studying history. He was president of the fraternity Minerva. In 2000 he also studied law and international politics in Rome, and in 2005 he graduated with an MBA degree at INSEAD in Fontainebleau and Singapore.
Before he joined the government, Hoekstra was a partner with the consultancy firm McKinsey and chairman of the supervisory board of the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam. Until 2006 he worked for Shell in Berlin, Hamburg and Rotterdam.
Hoekstra was the treasurer of the CDA-affiliated foundation Eduardo Freistichting and board member of the local CDA association in Amsterdam. In 2016 he was one of the lead architects of the party platform. In 2010, Hoekstra was offered a spot on the party's candidate list for the House of Representatives, but he did not accept it, preferring to continue working at McKinsey.
In December 2010, it was announced that Hoekstra was a candidate for the Senate election of 2011, for which he was indeed elected, and sworn in on 7 June 2011 as its youngest member. Membership of the Senate is a part-time position, and therefore Hoekstra continued as consultant with McKinsey. On 6 December of the same year, he gave his maiden speech during the debate on a tax-related topic. In the Senate he was not reluctant to deviate from the party line on a number of ethical issues: he was the only CDA senator to vote in favour of a ban on civil servants refusing to marry same-sex couples (weigerambtenaar) and to vote in favour of legal status for lesbian parents (meemoederschap). He was reelected in 2015.
Hoekstra was nominated by the parliamentary press in 2013 as 'political talent of the year' and in 2016 he was the second youngest person in the De Volkskrant top-200 of influential Dutch people.
Minister of Finance, 2017–present
Hoekstra was appointed Minister of Finance in the third Rutte cabinet on 26 October 2017, succeeding Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
At his first meeting with other EU Ministers of Finance in Brussels in 2017, Hoekstra expressed scepticism about eurozone reform, saying that budgetary discipline in other eurozone states was necessary first. Hoekstra reiterated his reluctance on eurozone reform at a meeting of the financial council of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany in 2018, warning against reforms initiated by Germany and France without the support of other member states or the public. Furthermore, at a visit to his German counterpart Olaf Scholz in March 2018, Hoekstra explained that he is reluctant about plans for a eurozone budget, a eurozone finance minister and a common deposit insurance scheme. After Germany and France had outlined a series of eurozone reforms in June 2018, Hoekstra led a coalition of twelve other member states in opposition to such reforms, which would later be referred to as the New Hanseatic League. In January 2019, Hoekstra criticised the European Commission for its decision not to launch a disciplinary procedure against Italy over its deficit and debt, stating "It’s a missed opportunity to do the right thing for the long run", a concern later repeated by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the World Economic Forum.
During his time in office, Hoekstra oversaw the government’s purchase of a stake in Air France KLM equal to that of the French government to increase its influence in the carrier’s business operations in 2019. That same year, led negotiations with the German government on the possibility of buying a stake in grid operator TenneT.
Since 2018, Hoekstra has been chairing a newly established, informal grouping of small northern and Baltic EU member states – Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands – to find common cause on the direction of eurozone reforms. Hoekstra has also expressed his opposition to an increase in the Netherlands' contribution to the EU budget as a result of Brexit. In 2019, Hoekstra joined forces with his counterparts of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Latvia in pushing for the establishment of new EU supervisory authority that would take over from states the oversight of money laundering at financial firms.
After a tense meeting with fellow EU national leaders, during the COVID-19 crisis, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa referred to Hoekstra's comments as "repugnant", saying that "this recurrent pettiness completely undermines what the spirit of the European Union is." He was the first European public authority to display criticism of other European countries regarding their performance on the pandemic response, singling out the Government of Spain and Italy specifically and actually blocking any kind of new response by the EU.
European Union organisations
- European Investment Bank (EIB), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- Joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee, Member
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- World Bank, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2017)
- Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum, Member of the Supervisory Board
- Friends of the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research, Member of the Board
- Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Ambassador
Hoekstra is married and has four children. He is a member of the Remonstrant Brotherhood.