Business chief warns of company exodus due to unwelcoming climate

Ingrid Thijssen. Photo: Robin Utrecht
Ingrid Thijssen. Photo: Robin Utrecht

The climate for business in the Netherlands is under threat, and some firms are already leaving, according to Ingrid Thijssen, chair of the VNO-NCW Dutch employers’ organisation.

She has warned of an exodus of wealth-generating companies, thanks to a higher corporate tax burden, reduction in school leaving standards and increasing costs for businesses to meet new green standards.

‘Just like Venice, our country is struggling with an administrative system that is paralysed,’ she wrote in an opinion article for NRC. ‘There are no limits to demands for companies to become more sustainable. It takes around eight years to get a permit, if it is granted at all due to nitrogen compound rules. And there’s no space on the power grid, while vital changes to legislation are happening too slowly.’

Accusing the government of making sustainability demands but not ensuring that businesses and citizens can meet them, she said the Dutch are ‘playing with fire’.

‘Our country is no longer a logical place to settle, to stay, or to go green,’ she wrote. ‘This does not only apply to large firms, where an exodus is already visible, but also to start-ups, scale-ups and traditional Dutch family businesses who wonder whether they are still wanted here.

‘The Netherlands stood out for a long time because of our high-quality workforce, our tax system, our excellent connections with the world, and a government that created good preconditions for growth and innovation…But neighbouring countries have copied and improved our approach, while here it is under pressure.’

She has called for more joined-up government policy, improvements to education, and efforts to mirror European tax norms and ensure that the transport infrastructure stays strong, despite reducing noise and emissions.

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