Hague politicians who want a position in the next cabinet do well to keep that final part of The Seven Sisters or the latest Scandinavian thriller wait a while. They better get rid of a bunch of advice, reports and recommendations on the Mediterranean beach or during that city break.
Over the past month alone, the SER recommended childcare changes and pointed to opportunities inequality in education, the Safety Research Council made recommendations on cutters and flies on areas of risk, the NCTV asked attention to ransomware, and complained about IMF and OECD. Dutch housing policy. And there‘s still an apology for the slavery past to be weighed.
Today there was a warning from the PBL (107 pages) that a stricter nitrogen policy could lead to the disappearance of many farms. All topics that only a new cabinet can act on.
“There are lots of advice, but the tricky thing is that a demissionary cabinet cannot make big decisions about the long-term fight against the nitrogen crisis,” explains political reporter Lars Geerts.
“There has been room to be able to make a policy so that certain environmental targets are not compromised, but a 15.3 billion proposal to tackle nitrogen is not the last afternoon by the Council of Ministers. That’s what you need to talk about in the formation.”
Handhold for the debate
PBL spokesperson Evert-Jan Brouwer underlines that this new report is intended to be discussed at the formation-table. “We are legally empowered to act on our own initiative if we feel that there is no or insufficient attention in the social debate. That was the case in this case.”
The policy outlines that stricter nitrogen rules will make the work of many farmers impossible. The PBL recommends customization, especially in the most vulnerable areas in the short term. The Planning Bureau suggests that European regulations provide room for that too.
Brouwer stresses that it is not a political piece, but a guide to the debate. “We don‘t say choose sister or anything, that’s up to politics. We list: if you do this, that‘s the result; if you focus on this alone, you lose sight of it. An analysis of possibilities and consequences.”
Not one-to-one taken over
Whether the recommendations of the PBL are followed is therefore up to the next cabinet. That will have to determine whether the conclusions are politically feasible. Geerts points out that even the Remkes Commission’s recommendations on the nitrogen approach (‘Not everything can be everywhere’) were not taken one-to-one.
“That was a broad-based committee in which all the parties that might be going to reject in the Netherlands were represented, and yet it was not feasible in this political constellation to take over everything: it was not halving nitrogen emissions in 2030, but a decrease of 26. percent.”
Yet Geerts sees opportunities for the PBL advice. “An area-oriented approach that the PBL advocates is also the approach proposed by the Cabinet. Don‘t blatantly cut the herd in half, but see where the most damage is caused and nature suffers the most and then buy out farms there.”
Given the fierce discussion on social media, the PBL has succeeded in giving a new boost to the nitrogen debate. However, political responses have not seen Brouwer pass by yet. “When is responding? I don’t know. We hope it will come to the table with the formation, but that is a completely uncluttered situation at the moment.”