Dutch PM Rutte informs House of Representatives ‘incorrectly and incompletely’ about gas contacts with Russia
By Ties Keyzer, | 30 July, 2021
The Dutch and Russian governments regularly discuss energy projects. The Working Party on Energy, which had been suspended in 2014 after the shooting down of flight MH17, was restarted in 2017. In this working group, government officials hold talks with companies such as Gazprom, Shell and Lukoil on gas and oil projects, but also on wind power and hydrogen projects.
In March, the House of Representatives reprimanded Prime Minister Mark Rutte because the government had failed to inform Parliament about the resumption of contacts with Russia. The prime minister said at the time that there was ‘nothing secretive’ about the consultations, which were supposed to be nothing more than a free ‘exchange of views’. According to Rutte, the consultations did not result in any agreements on energy projects and the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline was not discussed with the Kremlin.
However, Wob (Government Information (Public Access) Act) documents show that this does in fact happen and that the consultations go much further than that. In preparation for the meeting, the Netherlands submitted documents on Nord Stream 2, American sanctions and possible obstructive European legislation and urged Russia to make the meetings ‘as concrete as possible’ and to record ‘agreements made’. The part of the consultation in which the governments talk to each other without the companies appears to be held behind closed doors.
The political parties that asked for clarification regarding the working group in March feel they have been ‘misled’. PvdA, Groenlinks and SP claim they have been ‘incorrectly and incompletely’ informed by Rutte. On 27 July, they asked for a debate with the prime minister to finally get transparency on the working group. They also want to know whether the prime minister deliberately provided them with the wrong information. The debate will take place after the summer recess.
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