Government earmarks €5 billion for sustainable economic growth and future prosperity
Press release, published in April 2022
The government will invest €5 billion, with an extra €1.3 billion in reserve, in a total of 28 projects aimed at achieving sustainable growth in the Netherlands. The money, from the National Growth Fund, will be used to fund digitalisation in higher education and secondary vocational education, green hydrogen projects, and improvements to preclinical cancer research. This means the government is adopting in full the recommendations of the independent advisory committee chaired by Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The spending plans were announced today by Micky Adriaansens (Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) and Sigrid Kaag (Minister of Finance).
The committee advised the government to allocate €5 billion from the National Growth Fund, with a proportion of this allocation (€3.7 billion) to be made subject to certain conditions. Extra steps are still required before a final decision is made on the additional €1.3 billion that has been reserved. The government has therefore allocated (in part conditionally) and reserved a total of €6.3 billion. On average, 50% of the investment in the projects will come from the fund, with the remaining 50% being provided by various other public and private sector parties. Today's announcement means that total investment in this funding round could exceed €12 billion in the coming years.
‘Our current level of prosperity and public spending would not have been possible without past investments,’ noted Ms Adriaansens. ‘I want us to be able to continue investing in society in the future too. But to pay for that we need economic growth. The National Growth Fund makes that sustainable growth possible: tomorrow's prosperity begins today.’
Speaking about the projects to be funded, Mr Dijsselbloem said ‘We have a nice varied package of proposals. Both big, bold projects like the Einstein Telescope and smaller – but high-impact – ventures like CROP-XR to foster the rapid and efficient development of climate-resistant crops. It is also essential, in the committee's view, to invest in the quality of education and lifelong learning. Because we need more skilled professionals to ensure that projects are carried out. The investments will therefore be mutually reinforcing.’
National Growth Fund
The National Growth Fund was launched in 2020 to bring about a sustainable increase in the earning power of the Netherlands. The Fund invests together with initiators in projects that generate sustainable economic growth in the long term. Economic growth provides scope to continue investing in, for example, healthcare, education and climate action. Growth also means the country earns more, so that we can maintain our standard of living in the future.
The National Growth Fund was initially allocated €20 billion for investment in three areas: knowledge development; infrastructure; and research, development and innovation. Infrastructure was dropped from this list under the terms of the coalition agreement. But this does not apply to the current, second round of funding which was already under way at the time when the coalition agreement was reached. In the first round, the amount allocated (including conditional allocations) and reserved by the government for various projects totalled €4.1 billion. The first projects are now under way.
In collaboration with public and private parties, various government ministries submitted investment proposals to the National Growth Fund for the second round of funding. In the next round of funding – the third – the government wants to enable businesses, knowledge and educational institutions, public authorities, civil society organisations and other parties to submit their investment proposals directly to the National Growth Fund by means of a grant scheme. In March 2022 the House of Representatives approved the legislation that provides the basis for setting up the necessary grant scheme. The legislation is now awaiting the approval of the Senate.