‘The Netherlands has become a bit more corrupt, because of lobbyists’

The Netherlands became slightly more corrupt last year, Transparency International (TI) reports in its annual corruption ranking. With 80 points, the Netherlands achieved its lowest score ever. The country is still one of the ten countries with the least corrupt public sector. The Netherlands is in eighth place, as in previous years.

Tweede Kamer (Dutch parliament)

The fact that the Netherlands has dropped a few points is mainly due to the lack of political integrity, explains TI spokesperson Andor Admiraal. “For example, there is no good lobbyists’ register, which means there is insufficient supervision of lobbyists. There are also far fewer rules about the financing of political parties than in other countries. Furthermore, a cooling-off period for politicians is not properly arranged.”

For example, CDA Member of Parliament Raymond Knops announced last week that he will lead the lobby club for the arms industry. Knops is now a deputy member of the Defense Committee of the Dutch House of Representatives.

Earlier there was a fuss about the transfer from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) to the sector association of energy companies. This raised doubts about conflicts of interest and undesirable political influence.

Admiraal: “Almost half of national former politicians start working as lobbyists when their political career is over. That is a real problem in the Netherlands, because voters must know that people in politics make decisions based on their political ideas. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest is enough to undermine that trust.”

A bill is now being drafted for a national lobbying ban, but only for (former) ministers and not for other politicians.