Throughout Europe, new and exciting technological advancements are integrating into society each year. Sweden are swiftly embracing a cashless society, Denmark have been exploring the potential of blockchain payment services and Dublin has swiftly become a technological hub with their Silicon Docks containing offices for international businesses such as Google, Indeed and Twitter. However, while these countries thrive under new and expanding technology, the Netherlands could risk being left behind.
The main issue is that technology companies have to wrestle with outdated regulations, making it increasingly difficult for start-ups and established businesses to break into new markets. Back in 2000, the Dutch Taxi Act was passed making it illegal for taxis to operate without a meter in their car. This meant that in 2014 when Uberpop tried to break into the Netherlands’ taxi industry, it was banned due to a violation of the act which deemed that it was unlawfully competing with regular taxis.
In order for the Netherlands to be able to keep up globally in the tech industry it needs to ensure that the companies revolutionising technology are able to flourish throughout their country. When it comes to legislation, the government need to ensure that they futureproof regulations to enable new and disruptive technologies to legally operate throughout the country.
These regulations are often seen as too strict and have been recognised as so by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Central Planning Bureau), a branch of the Ministry of Economic Affairs whose analysis is fully independent.
The CPB recently published a brief in which they claimed that the Dutch government needs to respond to developments through IT with greater speed. The report also suggested that the government frequently waited too long until the new technology had developed further in the market, examples of this included: Robots, Blockchain and the Internet of Things.
Alongside the CPB’s recommendations, global companies are also calling for more flexible regulations to allow them to easily expand their businesses throughout the country.
The European Commission has weighed in on the strict laws and regulations currently facing the Netherlands’ tech industry, claiming that inadvertently banning high-tech companies is bad for the entire European Economy.
The EC also say that banning these high-tech companies should be a measure of last resort. Back in June, the EU Commission released new guidelines warning member nations about crackdowns on companies like Uber and Airbnb as they currently contribute approximately €28 billion to the EU economy.
Experts within the EU are calling for a coherent approach to that allows start-ups to thrive and have been reassuring member nations that these services were an opportunity and not a threat.
Jyrki Katainen, Senior European Official for Job and Growth, spoke about the need for countries like the Netherlands to relax the laws and regulations that are restricting high-tech businesses:
“We want to keep up, and keep Europe as open as the US for new innovative business models, at the same time as addressing the negative effects”
The CPB has suggested that the government’s legislation should focus more on the objective instead of the method as strict regulation could put the Netherlands at risk of falling behind in the tech industry. However, more relaxed guidelines could promote more competition throughout the country as companies try to constantly revolutionise their industry.
In the case of Uberpop, The Dutch Taxi Act would instead have made sure all customers are given accurate information about their journey instead of requiring all taxis to have a meter. This would mean that the Uberpop method of recording the distance via an app would comply with the law and make regulation independent from tech developments.
Ensuring that there is room to experiment with new technology such as self-driving cars or drones would help attract new businesses to the Netherlands. This will help promote greater cooperation between start-up businesses and the government, to ensure that future regulations work for the people and the businesses who are looking to evolve their industry.
Currently there are proposed changes to the country’s legislation underway that will allow for more experimentation, starting with self-driving cars.
By futureproofing legislation, the Netherlands can encourage more international businesses like Uber and Airbnb to bring their innovative technology and industry changing ideas to their country. While there may be worries throughout the EU that the Netherlands may not be able to offer a competitive tech market, the country is obviously preparing to adapt.