16 lessons learned from previous government measures to support large companies

First publication on ongoing investigation into the corona crisis and support for business

In a letter to the House of Representatives and the Senate of 26 June 2020, the Netherlands Court of Audit summarises the lessons learned from previous government interventions to support big companies. The letter is the first publication on an ongoing investigation into the support provided to big companies that have been affected by the corona crisis. The lessons have been taken from earlier investigations by the Court of Audit and also from parliamentary investigations and inquiries.

The letter looks at the lessons learned from the RSV and other parliamentary inquiries in the 1970s and 1980s, the financial and tax support provided to big companies in the 1990s, industrial policy and the credit crisis this century. They range from ‘have a full understanding of the relationship between a company and the government’ and ‘do not overestimate the government’s need to appoint a supervisory director’ to ‘not intervening is also an option’ and ‘consult the European Commission in a timely manner’. The option of a bail-in is also described, as is the provision of information to parliament, which has the right to approve the financial support the government provides to companies. The lessons can be applied directly in the current plans to support big companies.

Follow-up publication

The Court of Audit intends to issue a second publication on this investigation after the summer. It will summarise the findings of a brief study of recent government support for big companies.

The Court will soon publish a monitor on its website at www.rekenkamer.nl to provide more information on the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on expenditure and lost income due to the government support will also be posted online on the European Union page.