Every year, The Hague seems to have difficulty dealing with all kinds of crises, and that is all due to ‘implementation problems’. The Hague would like to go faster, but simply cannot. And precisely when The Hague works in a hurry, things often go wrong, according to former SP Member of Parliament Paulus Jansen.
He argues that there are structural errors in government policy. Particularly approaching problems in a compartmentalised way makes things unnecessarily difficult, he says. ‘It is usually the case that something has several approach routes, and depending on the incident, the House or the cabinet chooses one direction to work out.’ But that often results in a new problem being created somewhere else, he says. “And that’s a problem.”
In addition, Jansen notes that the cabinet has a tendency to react too hastily to incidents, because decisiveness is required. ‘And then often the quick reaction causes another problem,’ he continues. ‘Think of violating a legal principle, such as with benefit victims.’
Professor of Constitutional Law Paul Bovend’Eert of Radboud University even dares to draw a comparison between the handling of the Groningen gas problem and the Supplementary Affair, a comparison he calls ‘fascinating’. All the more so because both cases show that the relationship between the government and parliament is not functioning properly. ‘In the sense that the cabinet is very strongly connected in a majority coalition,’ explains Bovend’Eert. ‘That majority blindly follows the cabinet on the basis of the coalition agreement, so parliament cannot actually perform its monitoring function independently.’
This also makes it difficult for the Dutch parliament to intervene if a unilateral policy line is chosen, ‘while there may be better alternatives available’.
Jansen recognizes the situation that Bovend’Eert sketches. As an example, he cites the introduction of the landlord levy and temporary leases. ‘That was completely boarded up in advance’, Jansen continues. ‘It was a spring agreement with the Labor Party, VVD, D66, SGP and ChristenUnie, and it was actually a kind of contract.’
Arguments would no longer count according to Jansen, and that is frustrating. ‘Because all the problems that exist now – including those of the housing market – were predicted a long time ago,’ he says. ‘Sometimes it is better to try to take more time at the front for good legislation than to increase the problem by throwing and throwing.’