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OECD Territorial Reviews: Netherlands 2014

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Netherlands 2014

The Dutch economy has been traditionally very competitive among OECD countries. The global financial crisis however has brought new challenges, especially during the second shock, from 2011 onwards. The government’s recovery plan, which includes various measures such as fiscal consolidation, stimulating innovation and sub-national government reform has an important territorial dimension. This review focuses on how sub-national institutions and development can help the Netherlands meet its challenges. In the short-term, factors such as the contribution of all regions, better use of resources, and more efficient provision of goods and services can help the recovery. In the long term, improving national competitiveness will largely depend on a strong performance of the polycentric city structure, which characterises the Netherlands. The key policy areas explored in this review include: the recently created top-sector innovation policy; decentralisation; and territorial reforms such as municipal and provincial re-scaling through mergers or co-operation.

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Multi-level governance challenges in the Netherlands

The aim of this chapter is to investigate the role of the subnational government structure in the Netherlands paying particular attention to the subnational government reform which is taking place. This reform has two main components which are closely interconnected: a decentralisation reform and a territorial reform. These are the two sides of the same coin, as the second one is partly driven by the first one. It entails a major overhaul of the administrative tiers and their functions, with a decentralisation of additional functions to municipalities, complete elimination of the city-regions and transfer of their competences to provinces whose competences have been strengthened in recent years. The decentralisation process is combined with efforts to consolidate both the provincial and municipal governments through voluntary mergers (up-scaling) or cooperation (trans-scaling).

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