‘Goede zaken’. Unlocking business potential to benefit society

The Netherlands faces major challenges in the areas of climate, health, the labour market and future productivity. If we are to meet these challenges, we need businesses to unlock their full potential. Achieving this will require a shift in government policy towards businesses.

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Image: ©WRR

In its report Goede zaken. Naar een grotere maatschappelijke bijdrage van ondernemingen the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) concludes that all too often, the Dutch government shields established companies through tax breaks and lax regulatory oversight. This approach is stifling much-needed innovation within and across industries. It leads to companies sitting on their hands and discourages innovative newcomers. Moreover, the government fails to realize that doing good business currently often does not pay off. As a result, golden opportunities are being missed to put solutions for society at the heart of business models.

The WRR is therefore calling for a reset in the relationship between government and businesses, moving away from a policy that pampers companies towards one that inspires and motivates them to help overcome society’s challenges. The report sets out three main recommendations on how to achieve this reset:

  1. Reward good business: Commit to an ambitious mix of pricing instruments and standards to limit harmdoing and tighten enforcement of regulations and supervision.
  2. Exercise restraint with financial support: Reassess subsidies and taks breaks and only offer support if a short-term boost is needed to start renewal and transitions.
  3. Unleash investments for transitions: Make government procurement and tendering policies more mission-oriented and develop a public-private investment bank to help steer transformative and infrastructure investments.