Restructuring Environmental Legislation in the Netherlands

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In 2002, the newly elected Cabinet in the Netherlands decided to act upon a growing number of complaints from businesses that government legis-lation is the cause of heavy administrative burdens for companies. According to businesses, this has a negative impact on the economy. The Cabinet promised to reduce the administrative burdens by 25%. Environmental legislation was at the centre-piece of the complaints. In December 2003, the Minister and Secretary of State of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment presented her de-tailed plans on reducing environmental legislation. Some 75% of all environmental acts, orders in Council and ministerial decrees will be either with-drawn, integrated or changed. This short article gives an overview of these ambitious plans.In the Netherlands there are almost 400 acts, orders in Council and ministerial decrees on the policy field of housing, planning and the environment. This is quite a large number. It was a wise decision to verify whether all of these are still necessary, and whether or not an integration of legislation is possible. The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment has done an impressive job by scrutinizing all 400 in only four months. However, the proposals that now have been sent to Parliament are too far reaching to be simply based on this scru-tiny. Moreover, there is no clear insight into the nature of the problem. The Ministry has come up with a solution without knowing what the exact problem is. What exactly is an administrative bur-den? How much of this burden is actually related to a legal rule in a specific piece of legislation? Do businesses want less rules, or do they want less government interference? Without these questions answered, it is possible that in 2009, when all changes must have been carried out, the problem still exists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-37
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental Law Network International Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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