Organisation - October 1, 2010

Coalition agreement has new ministry of economy, agriculture and innovation

Much attention is given to the economic importance of the agro food sector in the coalition agreement. The basic student grant in the Bachelor phase stays.

In the coalition agreement presented by VVD leader Mark Rutte yesterday afternoon, the success of the Wageningen lobby is worthy of note. The Executive Board last summer stood up strongly for the economic importance of the agro food sector. The calls made then can now be traced, almost literally, in the agreement. These concern the international leading position of the Dutch agro food sector, which would help solve (inter)national challenges concerning food security, poverty elimination, energy, water, climate, peace and stability. 'Agriculture and horticulture deserves strengthening, national, European and global.'
New ministry
The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) - which finances Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences - will be merged with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The CDA and VVD parties consider agriculture as an important sector which should be given considerable weight in economic policymaking. The agreement reads as such: The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation is given the task of promoting a competitive entrepreneurial environment in general, and to develop a stimulating policy for major current and future economic issues in the Netherlands, such as water, food, horticulture, high tech, life sciences, chemistry, energy, logistics and creative industry. It continues to say that green education will remain with this division and contribute substantially to the quality and future of the agro food sector.
It was unclear where the present LNV-subdivision 'Nature' would be included. Rutte and Verhagen named the food valley in Wageningen as an example of a regionally clustered economy which should be stimulated.
Basic student grant
It is worth noting that the basic student grant will remain in part. Except for the CDA and the PVV, the other political parties had wanted to convert this student subsidy into some kind of loan. The new government has come up with a compromise. The basic student grant and supplementary grant will remain during the Bachelor phase. Only for the Masters phase will a social loan system be implemented, the proceeds of which will be invested into improving the quality of education.