There is broad support in the House of Representatives for the conclusions of the parliamentary committee of inquiry that has investigated gas extraction in Groningen. Today and tomorrow, the House will debate the extremely critical inquiry report from the end of February with the committee. The committee concluded, among other things, that the interests of the people of Groningen had been systematically ignored and that making money took precedence over safety.
Almost all MPs agree that the Netherlands has a ‘debt of honor’ to the people of Groningen. However, there are many questions to the committee about what that actually means. According to spokesman Van Wijngaarden of the ruling party VVD, the debate must become a turning point in the “way in which we deal with Groningen”.
Discussion about the functioning of the Chamber
The MPs also believe that the cabinets involved have not fully informed the House (including about the importance of ‘security of supply’) and that the House itself should have been much more alert. SP Member of Parliament Beckerman spoke of “a government that is failing on all fronts and a bureaucratic hell”. Others also consider this a moment to “reflect on the functioning of the House of Representatives”. Opposition parties point out that the interests of the coalition were too often decisive.
According to independent MP Omtzigt, ministers can “actually give orders to their MPs”. He said that as a CDA member he was also put under pressure to adopt a certain position. Omtzigt wants to know whether members of government parties who are also on the committee of inquiry feel completely free.
‘Rutte could have written the report himself’
The opposition judges Prime Minister Rutte harshly. The committee concludes that the prime minister only realized the seriousness and urgency of the problems in 2018. Many members of the opposition find that implausible, BBB leader Van der Plas said that Rutte “is the only one who has been on top of it all these years and that he could have written the report himself”.
Member of Parliament Drost of the government party ChristenUnie wondered whether his impression is correct that the committee uses milder words about Rutte’s role than about those of other ministers. He himself did not want to pass judgment on the role of the prime minister yet. He first awaits the answer from the committee.
‘Sixty years of investing’
In the debate, PvdA Member of Parliament Nijboer said that after sixty years of gas extraction, the cabinet must also invest sixty years in repaying the debt of honor to the people of Groningen.
Forum for Democracy, JA21 and the Van Haga group question the need to stop extracting gas in Groningen altogether. Continuing in a safe manner would then have to be linked to ample compensation for the people of Groningen who were affected. The rest of the Chamber insists on stopping soon.
The committee of inquiry will answer the House tomorrow afternoon. There will be a debate with the cabinet later. That will only come with a response to the report if the House as a whole has given an opinion on it.
- North Drenthe wants 4.5 billion euros as compensation for gas extraction
- Groningen wants at least 30 billion euros due to ‘debt of honor’ gas extraction
- Committee of inquiry: gas extraction disastrous for Groningen residents, the Netherlands has a debt of honor