NETHERLANDS: Overview of key issues of the new Dutch transparency Act

– Analysis by ECNL, published on 17 December 2020, accessible here

This draft is a follow up of the draft law proposed to public consultation in 2018, when it required all civil society organisations (CSOs) to publish details on donations and donors that amount to or exceed 15,000 EUR a year.

The current draft takes a different framing and approach by replacing this generic obligation for all CSOs with narrowing the focus of interest to CSOs that are considered a (potential) threat to ‘public order’ or ‘general interest’.

ECNL identified the main points points of why this draft Act may not be in line with European and international standards.

The draft Act:

  • is not in line with the rule of law principle as the Mayor is given powers with a very large margin of interpretation without Parliamentarian scrutiny.
  • creates legal uncertainty due to lack of clear criteria on what may constitute an indication of risk or disruption of ‘public order’. This may lead to:
    • Potential discriminatory application as it will be left on the whim of the Mayor to apply the act based on each individual situation and own judgment;
    • Create reluctance and discourage support to CSOs among funders from abroad or intermediary organisations based in the Netherlands;
    • Lead to self-censorship of CSOs and limiting FoE and FOAA as groups may feel that they might be under additional scrutiny for what they act and say.
  • will potentially affect a wide group of CSOs as it is up to the Mayor to decide who is a potential threat to public order, which means a large group of CSOs receiving foreign funding will potentially be subject to additional administrative requirements, supervision and potential restrictions of their activities.
  • discriminates against CSOs receiving foreign funding from abroad and may lead to stigmatisation because it will potentially send a message that such organisations are undesirable and threat to the society.