MPs Omtzigt and Dassen come up with an anti-corruption plan

Opposition MPs Pieter Omtzigt and Laurens Dassen (Volt) are on an ‘integrity mission’ and launch a real anti-corruption plan. This consists of a legal code of conduct with fines for offenders, an enforcement authority and a register in which all contacts with lobbyists are kept.

“It may sound like a lot, but it’s also because there is nothing at the moment,” says Dassen in Good Morning Netherlands on NPO 1. “We have no rules about this. That is also why we have been reprimanded by the European authority, which says that the Netherlands has a problem with this. Other countries are already doing this. “

This is about trust in the rule of law and in Dutch ministers, the Volt MP emphasizes. “And then an extra regulator who can guarantee this is very important.”

According to de Volkskrant, the two politicians presented the ideas for this in a joint initiative note on Monday. With their proposals, they will take the new management culture seriously. In the end, a cultural change to a transparent and clean-acting government is more important than the rules that are agreed upon, the two members of parliament believe. But to get there, agreements must be made about what is and is not possible. They want to contribute to that.

‘Has received harsh criticism from Europe for years’

Because even though the Netherlands is in the top ten of least corrupt countries, our country has a problem. “We have received strong criticism from Europe for many years, especially with regard to the risk of a conflict of interest,” said Lousewies van der Laan, Director of Transparency International Holland. “Do we actually know about our senior politicians, ministers, ministers and state secretaries, whether they work for our interest, or whether they may also have a private interest?”

Van der Laan cites the reimbursement case and the oral agreement as examples. Do we really know exactly how politics and legislation are created? There are, of course, many Wob queries from journalists who come back painted black. So there is a lot of criticism of how we are doing in the Netherlands, and there is a lot of work to be done, unfortunately. ”

Cooling period

Among other things, Dassen and Omtzigt see benefits from a ‘cooling-off period’ of two years. This is to prevent ex-ministers from quickly returning to their old ministry as lobbyists, or from going to work for a company that has something to do with the former ministerial post, like Cora van Nieuwenhuizen. “She was still in the government, where the energy budget for the following year was discussed, and she already knew then that she was going to an energy lobby organization (EnergieNL, ed.), Including the Russian Gazprom,” says Dassen. “It’s unacceptable. It’s not on the border, but it’s really over it.”

This withdrawal period must be enshrined in law so that a regulatory authority can actually enforce it. “There are all sorts of agreements, but they are not well documented, which makes it a bit shady and unclear, even for the ministers themselves.”

Lobby register

With the new rules, MPs are currently focusing on ministers and top officials. And an important part is certainly the lobby. “Access to power.” According to Dassen, it is often unclear how the legislation is created. “Which large companies have finally cooperated? A few years ago we had a coconut affair. After a thorough investigation by the NRC, it was seen that banks literally contributed to the legislation”, he mentions as an example. He refers to three large Dutch banks contributed to a law from the Ministry of Finance that would give banks a significant tax advantage.

Dassen further emphasizes that lobbying ‘in itself’ is not wrong. “But it must be clear who is working on it. We say about this: register it very clearly now, and also put a lobbying officer on it who can enforce it. “

Integrity

Dassen points out that the vast majority of ministers act with integrity. “But again, they are left to themselves on how to act, and that also creates a lot of uncertainty,” he explains. “We had, for example, the situation with Minister Ernst Kuipers, who in his previous role was responsible for Erasmus and who also had a supervisory position in a company that is now in conflict with the ministry for which he is responsible.”

It can create a conflict of interest, says Dassen. “Such a committee can then help to advise the Minister on how to deal with this, precisely to prevent trouble in the Chamber and to prevent an incident that we all bow to again and which lowers confidence in democracy.”

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By: Marinka Wagemans

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