The Netherlands: ruling backs emissions reduction regulations

The Netherlands' highest court has ruled that an exemption granted by the Dutch government that has allowed construction projects to circumvent EU environmental guidelines on nitrogen emissions is illegal. The decision threatens to put a stop to major building projects that do not comply with emissions reduction rules. The country has only recently been shaken by farmers' protests against emissions cuts. The national press is not sparing in its criticism of the Dutch government.

Open/close all quotes
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Anything to avoid making people angry

De Volkskrant complains about the Rutte government's inaction regarding the nitrogen problem:

“The ruling will delay thousands of projects and, in many cases, lead to the withdrawal of permits. This could have prompted the government, which expected this ruling, to implement the recommendations made by nitrogen mediator Johan Remkes [in the conflict with farmers] already this autumn. It could have begun by putting a stop to the emissions of the biggest polluters at livestock farms. Instead, the Rutte cabinet once again resorted to postponement and soothing words, all to avoid making anyone angry. The government has many problems, but one is entirely of its own making: the ever-growing nitrogen problem.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Political cowardice

De Telegraaf sees the EU and its stringent environmental rules as the culprit:

“In its search for solutions, the government is now considering even stricter interventions at the expense of farmers and industry. A logical option - simply changing the rules - seems out of the question. Then it's all 'we can't', 'we mustn't', 'then we would have to leave the EU'. But this is a matter of political will. ... The government also deliberately opts to haggle or play tricks on other issues, such as asylum. ... This is simply political cowardice.”