Remkes names gap between city and countryside, is tough for the cabinet

In the talks that mediator Remkes has had about the nitrogen crisis, he was shocked by โ€œthe genuine despair of reasonable peopleโ€ and โ€œthe gap between the city and the countrysideโ€. He also strongly criticizes the cabinet.

According to Remkes, the policy in recent years has been โ€œweak and sometimes failingโ€. The government has postponed nitrogen measures for far too long. And farmers have come up against the government. โ€œLike it‘s all their fault.โ€

In the introduction to his advice on the nitrogen crisis, Remkes expresses the expectation โ€œthat the cabinet will not receive this report with joyโ€. Rutte 4 gets a lot of trouble.

Some of the farmers feel โ€œput in the damn corner like a loserโ€. The cabinet must show empathy for this, says the mediator.

On the soap box

Remkes also notes that people in rural areas experience a gap with the Randstad and not just because of the โ€œnitrogen harreshingโ€. He mentions practical things like the last bus stop and the last ATM that disappear from a village. โ€œServices that are attached are disappearing.โ€

But, according to him, it is also about how โ€œpolitics, media and the cultural vanguardโ€ talk about the rural area โ€œand the views living thereโ€. โ€œThat is a source of trouble for many people.โ€

Groninger Remkes says he understands this, because he knows the rural area. The cabinet must enter the country, he says, โ€œon the soap boxโ€. Listening carefully and answering in terms of content, he adds. โ€œAnd that at the right pitch.โ€

Minister Van der Wal of Stikstof hears it all and expresses regret the โ€œunrest and concernsโ€ immediately after receiving the report. She also promises improvement and mentions the much-discussed nitrogen reduction map in this context.

In June, the cabinet came up with the map that caused a lot of controversy. Remkes uses it to wipe the floor. โ€œFar too absoluteโ€ and it has โ€œdone more harm than goodโ€. Van der Wal then promises to ban the ticket immediately.

This is a success for Remkes, who was commissioned as an โ€œindependent interlocutorโ€ to get the dialogue between farmers and the cabinet going again. Eventually, he ends up as advisor and author of a report that raises many expectations.

These expectations arose over the sixty conversations he had, says Remkes. โ€œThe scope of the report was extended by interview.โ€ Not least because cabinet members kept referring to the expected document with every question about nitrogen. โ€œWe are waiting for Remkesโ€, it always sounded. โ€œAnd that brought me more and more into political and administrative waters,โ€ says the mediator.

Remkes had mixed feelings about this, because he was actually doing the cabinet’s work. In his own words: โ€œIn my opinion, writing a report with recommendations about the entire approach is not compatible with the cabinet‘s political and administrative responsibilities.โ€

D66 and CDA

He did it anyway, to the satisfaction of a large part of politics The Hague. For example, the cold among the coalition parties seems out of the blue for the time being. For D66, it was important that 2030 remained the year in which emissions should be halved. And for the CDA, it was important that it could be a little more flexible. That has also happened, with benchmarks when the nitrogen targets can be adjusted.

By the way, this does not mean that the cold is out of the sky forever. If the cabinet follows Remkes’ advice to buy out hundreds of large companies within a year, with coercion if necessary, the tension in The Hague can quickly rise again.

Whether and to what extent the cabinet will participate in the recommendations – in addition to deleting the nitrogen card – will be clear in a week and a half. After all, then comes the official cabinet response.