The EITI Board today approved the Netherlands’ application to join the EITI.
The Netherlands has been closely involved with the EITI since its inception, and has now made the transition to being both a ‘supporting’ and ‘implementing’ country.
The Netherlands’ admission to the EITI is timely, as it faces changing circumstances in its gas sector. The Groningen gas field in the north-east was discovered in 1959, and is one of the largest gas fields in the world. The discovery transformed the Dutch economy. The revenues were used by successive governments, but this led to an overvalued currency and weakened exports from other sectors. The term “Dutch disease” was coined to describe these macroeconomic challenges, which many other resource-rich countries continue to encounter. The Netherlands’ expertise in diversifying the Dutch economy will be a valuable experience for other EITI countries to learn from.
Netherlands delegation: Omer van Renterghem, NL-EITI MSG member, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Wepke Kingma, Dutch ambassador in Berlin; Fredrik Reinfeldt, Chairman EITI; Geesje van Niejenhuis, Coordinator NL-EITI and Dirk Jan Koch, Chairman NL-EITI together with EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Fredrik Reinfeldt, Chair of the EITI, said:
“The Netherlands has been a strong supporter in the global effort to improve extractive industry governance since the EITI’s inception. We now welcome them as an implementing country, and look forward to the EITI contributing to public debate in the Netherlands”.
In 2018, the Netherlands faces new challenges. In March 2018, the government said it would phase out gas production at the Groningen field by 2030 as part of efforts to reduce the danger caused by small but damaging earthquakes. Production will decline to 21.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2018, down from a peak of 53.8 bcm in 2013. Shutting down the Groningen gas field is expected to be complicated for the Netherlands. Gas from the field is used by almost 90% of Dutch households. The Netherlands government plans to build a new EUR 500 million (USD 616.6 million) nitrogen plant to convert imported gas into fuel.
The Netherlands EITI multi-stakeholder group was formed in 2017 and aims to “provide each member of Dutch society with transparent and verified information about the money flows between the extractive industries and the government in the context of the extractive industry value chain, in order to contribute to a well-informed debate about the extractive industry value chain in the Netherlands”.
NL-EITI Chair and EITI International Board member Dirk-Jan Koch said:
“Considerable information about the exploration of gas and oil can be found on the Internet, but it might take some time to find it and it is not always provided at the level of detail that can be found in EITI countries. When the Netherlands complies with the EITI Standard in 2019 and beyond, policy makers, investors, governments, civil societies, academics and journalists will have access to comprehensible, verified and easy to find information. This is how the NL-EITI MSG contributes to a well-informed debate about the extractive industry value chain in the Netherlands”.
Marieke van den Akker from the Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Association (NOGEPA) has supported these efforts:
“The EITI initiative increases transparency of transactions between governments and companies. For example, EITI-NL contributes to the public debate on the usefulness and necessity of gas extraction in The Netherlands. NOGEPA believes it is important that this discussion concerns both how much tax companies pay, but also how these funds are spent by the different authorities, and what society gets back in return. Participation in the EITI initiative encourages this discussion, and we are happy to participate."
Civil society organisations in the Netherlands, which have played a leading role in promoting the EITI nationally, have also welcomed these commitments. Paul Vlaanderen of Transparency International Nederland said:
“Transparency International Nederland commends the Dutch government for its commitment to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The EITI-initiative opens up excellent opportunities for civil society to function as an honest monitor and we are looking forward to stimulate the debate and to support in creating public awareness about how the Netherlands should better manage their resources. But the hard work has only just begun; the Netherlands must now prove that it is serious about EITI.”