News - August 29, 2013

Kropff and Breukink reappointed on lower salaries

Rob Ramaker

Wageningen directors back to Balkenende norm.

Rector Martin Kropff and Tijs Breukink have been reappointed to the Executive Board of Wageningen UR. Both have had to accept a considerable drop in salary in order to conform to the new law setting a norm for top incomes in the Netherlands. This law stipulates that directors in the public or quasi-public sectors should not earn more than 130 percent of a government minister’s salary – a ruling known as the Balkenende norm, after the prime minister whose government introduced it. It means maximum earnings of 228,599 euros per annum, including pension provision and expenses. For both Wageningen directors this entails a cut of about 15 percent.

At the beginning of this year the ministry of Education appealed to directors to forego earnings in excess of the norm on a voluntary basis. Wageningen UR comes under the ministry of Economic Affairs, however – which confirms that it has issued a similar appeal. Spokesman Simon Vink declines to comment on Wageningen UR’s response to the minister’s appeal. He does state that he thinks it is ‘extraordinary’ to approach directors in this way about their remuneration. ‘We have always kept to the rules and we still do.’

When the time comes for appointing (or reappointing) the chair of the board, in March, his salary (currently about 340,000 euros) will be brought in line with the new rules too. According to Vink, the ethical appeal is therefore ‘no longer relevant’.