Dutch bring in new rules to control former ministers’ work for lobby groups
The cabinet has agreed to bow down to pressure from MPs and bring in tougher rules to control lobbying by former ministers.
The discussion about ministers moving into the private sector came to a head this summer, when infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen stepped down to chair the energy sector association – a field in which she had considerable contacts as minister.
Under present rules, ministers are banned from lobbying in areas in which they had direct responsibility, but that is now being expanded to include all sectors in which they had active influence, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren told MPs.
In addition, they will be banned from taking on commercial contracts from their former departments for a two year period. They may, however, still take up advisory roles.
An independent commission is also being set up to advise on whether their new jobs are acceptable and within the rules.
The rules do not cover MPs, even though research by the Open State Foundation showed that almost one in five people leaving politics go to work as a lobbyist for the private sector.
For example, former VVD MP Helma Lodders now heads the livestock transport association and a new lobby group set up by the online gambling sector.
The Netherlands was criticised in the summer by the Group of States Against Corruption (Greco), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, for failing to meet any of its 16 recommendations, such as establishing a code of practice for ministers and requiring them to declare their financial interests while in office.
Ollongren said that the Greco recommendations would be incorporated into the new lobbying rules.
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