‘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.

The Netherlands has the highest gas price in the EU

Last month, the Netherlands had the highest gas price of all countries in the European Union.

Dutch households paid 283 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) of gas in July, more than twice as much as the average EU household. Gas is also about half the price in neighboring countries Germany and Belgium. A month earlier, gas in Sweden was more expensive than in the Netherlands, but in July Swedish households paid 237 euros per MWh.

(Bigstock/JKLS photography)

Purchasing power crisis

Energy prices have been rising rapidly for some time due to the war in Ukraine. Food and rent prices are also rising sharply. There is currently a purchasing power crisis that we have not experienced in decades.

The energy prices are the average rates (including taxes) that energy companies charge for a new energy contract. 283 euros per MWh comes down to 2.76 euros per cubic meter.

People also pay relatively high amounts for electricity in the Netherlands: 419 euros per MWh, including taxes and a reduction in energy tax. Only in Italy and Denmark prices are higher.

An average household that has to renew its energy contract has lost about 3700 euros per year extra compared to last year. The Dutch Budget Information Service Nibud warns that one in three households will run into problems as a result. “Some just need to cut back a bit, but there is also a large group who can’t get by even if they budget well.”

High prices also affect middle incomes

People with a low income can apply for an energy allowance of 1300 euros in the Netherlands. “That is not enough to keep people afloat”, according to Nibud. “We see too many groups who have too little income structurally to make ends meet. This also applies to people with a regular income.”

Companies make record profits

What we are seeing now is that inflation is impoverishing citizens while companies are making record profits. There’s plenty of money, but it all flows to companies.