Sometimes you have to ask if ministers are living on this planet. The latest to reveal a sense of other-worldiness is home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst who seems to think that one way of ending violent protests by animal rights groups is to get them to sign a covenant agreeing not to.

Yes, the masked boys and girls of the cosily named ALF – animal liberation front – are extremely likely to sit down and sign a piece of paper saying they will not set fire to cars. You have to admire her optimism.
The covenant is a popular tool in the Netherlands to try to get people to agree to something that no-one is really keen on. After all, the concept fits in well with the idea of consensus politics and everyone compromising for the greater good.
There are covenants on healthcare and on ensuring public safety in popular nightlife areas and on tropical hardwood imports. There is a covenant on noise at Schiphol airport which will, apparently, allow the airport to grow while reducing the problems caused by low-flying planes. Winners all round there then.
In 1994, the government’s audit office did some research into government instigated covenants and found there was a grand total of 154. It’s been rather quiet since then…time for an update perhaps?

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