When you listen to the relevant ministers, it sometimes seems as if the benefits affair were a natural disaster. A tragic fate that really no human being could protect himself against. This much to the frustration of Alex Brenninkmeijer. In newspaper Trouw says the former ombudsman that he has listened to some administrators with increasing amazement recently:
“As if they heard about the problems for the first time. They just knew ”.
Brenninkmeijer has the right to speak. As ombudsman, he warned several times about the consequences of the tough fraud policy. For example, he showed his dissatisfaction to PvdA minister Lodewijk Asscher and State Secretary Jetta Klijnsma during an introductory meeting in 2013. In vain.
According to Brenninkmeijer, political The Hague was convinced that large-scale fraud undermined social security. In reality, only a fraction of the population would steal tax money this way:
“We already signaled how problematic the fraud policy worked out, for example with the unemployment benefit scheme. But the ministers did not budge. My comments were taken for notice only. Incidentally, also in the House of Representatives. Let him talk, they thought. ”
The reason for this attitude, according to the former ombudsman, is the political culture of The Hague. This one would be closed, regent and pedantic. The problem is therefore according to Brenninkmeijer bulkier than the benefits affair alone. He argues that the Netherlands simply does not test its own laws against the constitution, with all consequences for the rule of law:
“The affair shows that our democratic constitutional state simply does not work. We have a legislator who does not adhere to the rule of law, an enforcer who follows the law indiscriminately, without caring about fundamental rights and fairness, and a judge who takes a governmental stance and merely confirms policy. All power is clustered in the Netherlands. Our judges structurally give citizens minimal chances to win a case. Judges mainly focus on the government. This attitude is deeply rooted in the national culture of our judiciary, and has proven to be very stable. ”
Last week the cabinet decided that the victims of the benefits affair will receive 30,000 euros. These victims were treated as fraudsters by the tax authorities for years, while there was no hard evidence for this.
Lodewijk Asscher suffers from acute amnesia when it comes to the benefits affair in March: