Coronavirus inquiry to take three years, cost €7 million

Daan de Kort explains the inquiry's mission. Photo: Koen van Weel ANP

The parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis is going to take three years, and it will be 2026 before public hearings are held, it emerged on Wednesday.

A budget of over €7 million has been set aside for the inquiry during which prime minister Mark Rutte and former health minister Hugo de Jonge will be heard under oath.

If MPs back the revised plan for the inquiry it will start in May. Closed interviews will take place from March to December 2025 and only then will public hearings take place. 

The six-strong inquiry panel is led by VVD parliamentarian Daan de Kort, who has been an MP since 2021. “We all know how much impact coronavirus had,” he said at a press conference to outline the plans. “And if you want to look at each aspect carefully, you need time.“

The far-right PVV and FvD, both of which opposed the coronavirus measures during the pandemic, are also represented, alongside new parties BBB and NSC. The GroenLinks-PvdA alliance is the only party on the left of centre to have a seat on the board. 

D66, the Christian Democrats and Socialists all decided against providing a panel member saying they do not have enough MPs to spare someone for the project. 

FvD’s panelist Pepijn van Houwelingen failed to win a seat at the November general election but has now replaced Freek Jansen, one of the party’s three MPs, to work on the inquiry ostensibly for six months. 

But De Kort said on Wednesday that all six-panel members have agreed to remain in parliament for the duration, which would indicate Jansen will continue to claim the special MPs unemployment benefit for a longer period. 

The six MPs have agreed not to speak during parliamentary debates about coronavirus and to ensure confidential documents remain secret.

The code of conduct is being seen as a measure to restrain Van Houwelingen who called for “tribunals” for ministers and MPs who supported the Covid restrictions during the pandemic.

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