OECD sets the Netherlands economic homework

Minister Verhagen of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation shares the OECD’s view that reforms are vital in order to strengthen the economy and maintain healthy government finances.

He expressed this view during talks with OECD Deputy Secretary-General Padoan after publication of the OECD’s biennial Economic Survey of the Netherlands. The OECD supports the Dutch Government’s aim to limit budgetary shortfall to 3 per cent of GDP. The benefits of such policy outweigh the negative effects of reduced demand and a temporary slowing in growth.


“The Netherlands has passed the economic test” said Minister Verhagen. “But we have been given a huge pile of homework to do in the coming period.”

The OECD warns that the Dutch economy is facing a crisis of confidence. Consumers are under pressure because of the crisis on the housing market and the weakened position of pension funds. Minister Verhagen believes the implementation of planned reforms will improve confidence, resulting in increased spending and accelerated economic recovery.

Labour market, health spending and top sector approach

The OECD examined the Dutch labour market, its health spending and its top sector approach. The Organisation is in favour of employment protection reform to make the labour market more flexible. The Dutch healthcare system is sound, but expensive. The ageing population is likely to make increased health spending unaffordable. The OECD believes more competition is essential. Increasing individual contributions would help considerably in controlling costs.

Minister Verhagen is pleased that the OECD values the reduction of unnecessary rules and the greater collaboration between business and knowledge institutes. The Organisation backs better incentives to encourage the marketing of scientific research results, in the form of clearer and broader rules for patent sharing.

The OECD wonders whether top sector policy should be expanded to other sectors. A longer-term approach would offer greater security and result in higher investment in research and development.


The OECD comprises 34 member states striving for free and open markets. The Organisation plays an important role in promoting international trade and investment, improving the fiscal climate and tackling corruption.