Brussels criticises ‘revolving door’ between Dutch politics and industry
While the Dutch integrated approach to preventing corruption and bribery could serve as a model to other EU countries, the Netherlands should still do more to improve transparency in politics, the European Commission said on Monday.
This is the Commission’s first report on measures to combat corruption within the EU which costs the European economy some €120bn a year.
At the same time, three quarters of Europeans think corruption is widespread and 56% think the level of corruption in their country has increased over the past three years.
While welcoming the fact that much has been done in the Netherlands to improve transparency, the Commission went on to recommend improvements in the way the business interests of ministers are examined.
Officials’ private, financial and business interests are considered a private matter and information about their assets and interests is not available to the public, the report points out.
Nor are there any rules forcing MPs to declare potential conflicts of interest or barring them from holding financial interests or engaging in external activities.
The report also highlights the way former ministers and senior officials can take jobs in the private sector without any restrictions.
‘The policy on ‘revolving doors’ is based on general guidance, focusing on avoiding the appearance that action taken while in office may have been inappropriate’ or that knowledge obtained by ministers could have been used incorrectly, the report states.
There was much criticism when former transport minister Camiel Eurlings joined airline KLM as head of its freight operations after announcing he was leaving politics.
While a minister, Eurlings emerged as a strong defender of the airline sector and dropped a new tax on air travel within a year of its introduction after strong lobbying by airlines.
Former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende became a partner with accountants group Ernst & Young, and works with clients who are ‘active at the interface between the public and private sectors’.
Current transport minister Melanie Schultz has also been criticised for failing to give sufficient detail of her husband’s business interests, which involve government contracts.
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