Long live government commissions…

Here in the Netherlands, we love our government commissions. We’ve got lots and lots of them. And several of them have been very busy over the past few days.

Firstly there was the long-awaited set of recommendations on how the Netherlands should cope with rising sea levels – the answer was basically, raise the dykes.
Then there was the report on improving life in the central urban belt known as the Randstad. Amazingly enough, we were told the solution is to build 500,000 new houses, turn four large tracts of countryside into parks (bizarre plan, that one) and improve the railways.
And now yet another commission has recommended that we improve mobility in the Netherlands by coming up with tricks to encourage people to work at home or move closer to their job.
Earth-shattering stuff it is not, but it does give people the feeling that something is being done. Commissions are a good way for governments to put off taking difficult decisions.
The mobility task force, for example, was set up last year following the advice of the government’s advisory body SER in 2006. We’re really making progress on that one.
It’s just as well these commissions take a long-term view. The sea level group is looking 100 years ahead, the Randstad one to 2040. And by the time their deadlines have been reached, we will all have forgotten what they recommended in the first place.

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