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Do municipal councils meet behind closed doors too often?

‘Dutch municipalities’ backroom meetings a massive breach of the law’ was the main headline of Dutch newspaper De Stentor on 24 June 2022. According to investigative journalist Gep Leeflang, Dutch municipalities continuously break the law by holding their municipal council meetings behind closed doors. Despite hosting public council and committee meetings, they maintain a backroom culture because it feels ‘nice to talk off camera as well’. 'Away from the prying eyes of the general public.’

The government is subject to strict rules regarding openness: 'public unless', is the premise of both the Municipalities Act and the Open Government Act. However, research by De Stentor - in which 227 of the 342 Dutch municipalities cooperated - shows that almost half regularly meet behind closed doors for no legitimate reason. This goes against the spirit of the Municipalities Act, says Annemarie Drahmann, Associate Professor of Administrative Law at Leiden University. 'A transparent government is a very important foundation of the democratic rule of law.'

You can read the full article on our Dutch website.


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