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UPDATE DUTCH POLITICS: The coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands

17-03-2020

What does the coronavirus crisis mean for the Dutch people, politics and public affairs? Please find below a brief update on the current state of play in the Netherlands.

People

By 16 March, a total of 1413 persons were tested positive, and 24 patiënts deceased. Yesterday, there were 278 new patiënts. Since 15 March, government measures include prohibition of events for over 100 people, closing of all schools, restaurants, bars, and daycare facilities until 6 April earliest. By increasing national debt the government has freed up 90 bln euro to cover e.g. challenges for businesses. PM Mark Rutte addressed the nation on television in an historic speech on 16 March, in which he compelled the Dutch to look out for one another.

Politics

Parliament has postponed all physical debates which are not coronavirus-related until further notice. Currently digital solutions to certain parliamentary processes are being sought, and in addition:

  • The weekly rounds of parliamentary questions will be cancelled, and in principle there will be no voting in the coming weeks.
  • All parliamentary committee meetings and activities are postponed until further notice. Exceptions to this are technical briefings on the coronavirus: on 18 March there will be a technical briefing on the corona virus in the Lower House at 11.00, followed by a plenary debate at 13.00.

Following the above it’s fair to assume most legislative processes may be delayed in the coming weeks.

Public affairs

  • An empty parliamentary agenda means opportunity for meeting MPs and other policy makers, albeit through digital means. Choosing the right timing is critical, however – as there is no indication of how long these measures will be in place.
  • The Dutch will have their next elections in March 2021. Currently, the committees in charge of writing the election manifestos are in their formative stage, or have just begun. How this crisis will impact the election process is yet unclear, but we can assume it will be off to a slow start this summer. This means more time to make your voice heard in the earlier stages.
  • As outlined above the parliamentary process is temporarily halted, which means some legislative processes might be postponed to after the summer – or even after the 2021 elections. Determining impact on business is crucial in this stage. Feel free to reach out to Public Matters to explore what these developments mean for you, and how we can assist you in assuring your public affairs activities are executed in the most effective way.

What does the coronavirus crisis mean for the Dutch people, politics and public affairs?

Bas Batelaan

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