Essay: Time and space for policy
In the light of the major social issues facing the Netherlands and its European partners, research-based policy advice is essential for good government policy. And in an age when day-to-day experience dominates our perception of events, a knowledge infrastructure that is geared towards the long term is indispensable. This is the theme explored by Professor Ernst Hirsch Ballin in his essay Time and space for public policy. Prospects for the Scientific Council for Government Policy after a half century of tidal political change.
Hirsch Ballin wrote his essay to mark the 50th anniversary of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR). Fifty years ago, the WRR was founded to focus on developing coherent long-term policy. Is policy of this nature possible in a democracy? And how can research-based policy advice help restore trust in democracy and the rule of law?
In his essay, Hirsch Ballin reflects on two limitations that apply to politics in practice:
- democratic politics is tethered to the timeline of a single term of office, while major areas such as climate, demographics and energy call for long-term policy;
- the reach of authorities is limited to the space within a country’s geographical borders, while the major issues play out in a network of complex international relations.
These restrictions are narrowed even further by the fact that the public eye tends to focus on events in the here and now. This amplifies the sense of powerlessness we feel in the face of fundamental problem
Today, Hirsch Ballin is presenting his essay at the symposium ime and space for public policy. Prospects for the Scientific Council for Government Policy after a half century of tidal political change. Following his presentation, former German government minister Peter Altmaier, secretary-general Gert-Jan Buitendijk and MP Lisa Westerveld will reflect on the points he raises.
About Ernst Hirsch Ballin
For the past nine years, Ernst Hirsch Ballin has been directly involved in the Council’s work: five years as a member and four years as an advisory member. As a member of the WRR, he was responsible for the reports Big Data in a Free and Secure Society (2016), Security in an Interconnected World (2017) and European Variations (2018). He is currently involved in the project Tilting World Order.