The electoral substance has descended and formation has begun. That means that there will be a new cabinet in the foreseeable future (or a little longer). The aim is to make the Netherlands better, stronger, different and/or more beautiful in about four years. Which subjects receive the most attention, first of all, is decided at the formation table. But there are a number of large files that seem unavoidable.
First of all, the coronacrisis, which were still in the middle of. It depends on how long the formation lasts and how quickly the vaccination goes, but chances are that another cabinet will have to deal with it. It may have been done by that time with all the crisis talks and the associated biweekly press conferences, but economic recovery after corona is certainly a subject.
The account and the labour market
Even if only because the current support packages run until the end of June and therefore need to be extended or not. But also because all those spent (and thus borrowed) billions must be repaid once. And if this cabinet wants to begin to do that, then there must be cuts.
Continuing the public debt is also a real option. Interest rates are now low (sometimes even negative), so raising the debt is not necessarily expensive. But it is “moving the bill to the next generation,” opponents say. That generation has less room for manoeuvre to deal with new setbacks. Another risk is that interest rates will go up again and then the charges will rise as well.
So the Cabinet has to think about the state of finances. And further, the labour market is on the market. Dismissionary Minister of Social Affairs had already begun reforms, but the coronacrisis did not make him far.
The reforms envisaged are in line with the conclusions of the Breastlap Commission (widely shared in The Hague). According to that committee, employers must offer fixed contracts more frequently, reduce the number of flexworkers and self-employed workers and increase investment in knowledge and innovation.
Living, nitrogen and agriculture
Wherever attention (and money) needs to go is the housing market. The need is high there and is felt by everyone. There need to be hundreds of thousands of homes, but where are they supposed to come and who should coordinate it? As far as the latter is concerned, it is not unthinkable that a new Minister of Housing will do it, because that is the wish of many parties.
What frustrated housing in recent years (among other things) was the nitrogen crisis. To curb it, a law has been enacted, which has recently been passed. The core is that there is less nitrogen in nature and that construction projects should be able to continue. The reduction in nitrogen should largely come from the reduction or innovation of agriculture. A clean task for the forthcoming cabinet to decide on that.
From nitrogen it is a small step towards climate policy. National and international agreements have already been reached on the reduction of CO2, but the question is how these should be fulfilled. There are several roads that lead to that. And the cabinet can also sharpen the targets even (or, on the contrary, less sharp). The Cabinet is undoubtedly going to make decisions about wind farms, solar pastures, CO2 levies and perhaps a nuclear power plant.
Surveys and surveys
Then there are some pain points: the cabinet has to work on the two recent Second Chamber investigations. The Bosman committee came to the opinion that a lot goes wrong with implementing agencies such as the UWV, CBR and the Tax Administration. People reporting there have a chance to get in the crap. And that is because Chamber and Cabinet have neglected the implementation of policies that they devise for years, the committee concluded.
The other investigation was on the childcare supplement affair. It violated fundamental principles of the rule of law was the firm conclusion of the Van Dam Commission. It eventually led to the resignation of the Cabinet (which has since reigning demissionarily), and it requires the coming cabinet to reform the payment system and to improve the provision of information.
By the way, the next cabinet does not get rid of it. There will also be a parliamentary inquiry into the payment affair (the previous study was a slightly lighter parliamentary questioning). In that respect, the coming cabinet can wet the chest. There will also be a parliamentary inquiry into gas extraction in Groningen, and it is expected that the coronacrisis will lead to an investigation as well.
So, summed up quite a list. And the question remains when the forthcoming cabinet is going to begin it (because the coalition has yet to be formed). The previous cabinet formation in 2017 had a record length of 225 days, but many parties have expressed the hope that this time it will be a bit quickercan. Or in the words of explorer Jorritsma Thursday: “There is a need for not too long”.