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A new Dutch government lays out its priorities

January 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The coalition government’s agenda focuses on combating climate change and reducing the shortage of housing in the Netherlands.

On Dec. 15, 2021, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, D66, Christian Democratic Appeal and ChristenUnie (all political parties in the Netherlands) announced that after nine months of discussions and negotiations, they had reached an agreement for the next coalition government. With Mark Rutte remaining as prime minister for his fourth term, the parties presented their plan for the next four years. They agreed to invest about €3 billion ($3.4 billion USD) into tax relief, aimed mainly at the middle class, and a 7.5% increase in the minimum wage. The government will also invest heavily in tackling the climate crisis and the housing shortage.

The new cabinet wants to create a fund for climate and energy transition issues and will use it to allocate €35 billion ($39.8 billion USD) for climate measures over the next 10 years, mainly for the construction of heat, hydrogen and electricity networks, as well as for making buildings and transportation more sustainable. In addition, the government wants to build two nuclear power plants in the Netherlands to complement solar, wind and geothermal energy. The plants can also be used to produce hydrogen, which will help the Netherlands become less dependent on natural gas imports.

The coalition agreement aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to be climate neutral by 2050. There will be a minister for climate and energy who will direct policy and the €35 billion ($39.8 billion USD) climate and transition fund, to be established for the next 10 years. The fund focuses on the construction of energy infrastructure, green industrial policy, and making transportation and the built environment more sustainable. In addition, the new cabinet will introduce road pricing by 2030, a measure expected to reduce emissions. Under the agreement, both the users of electric cars and cars with combustion engines will pay a motor vehicle tax based on the number of kilometers driven each year.

With a housing shortage still ongoing, the Dutch government will focus on building 15,000 temporary homes and transforming an additional 15,000 offices into houses each year. The goal is to increase housing construction to 100,000 homes per year, 40% more than the average of approximately 70,0000 homes built in recent years. In addition, €7.5 billion ($8.5 billion USD) will be made available in the next 10 years for roads and public transportation to the new housing, and a dedicated minister for housing and spatial planning will support municipalities and provinces in determining housing locations and will negotiate performance agreements.

Another focus of the new cabinet of the Netherlands is on digital developments and legislation. The national management and admission criteria for licensing huge data centers are being tightened. Facebook and Google are among the companies planning to build large data centers in the Netherlands. Also, an initiative is underway to bring fiber optics and 5G to all parts of the country.

However, the new cabinet’s main concerns are solving the housing crisis and reducing the impact of climate change, which makes sustainability the chief investment priority of the Rutte IV coalition. Wisconsin exporters in these industries are well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

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