Majority Dutch parliament asks minister to investigate opening up trade register as open data

The Dutch parliament voted by an overwhelming majority today to back a resolution that asks economic affairs minister Henk Kamp to investigate turning the trade register into open data. The parliamentary resolution was tabled by MP Kees Verhoeven of D66.

Unlike countries such as the UK, Belgium, Norway and Denmark, the trade register in the Netherlands is closed and data in the registry is not open to everyone. Although the trade register is supposed to be an open registry, access to company financial accounts and information is not available to anyone alike. Moreover, the information in the registry is not released as open data.

The call today for an investigation to open up the Dutch trade registry is an important step in the right direction. For some time, Open State Foundation has been advocating for a an open trade register.

For trade register information to be useful, it must be accessible in machine-readable form and under an open license that allows its re-use. The limited access and availability of data about companies and their work in the Netherlands is not just a problem for government or tax officers, it is a problem for all. Closed registers hamper economic development, trade and innovation. Access to reliable, dependable government data, via a standardised interface is what registers are for.

The motion tabled by Dutch liberal party D66 was also supported by coalition parties VVD and PvdA. It calls on economic affairs minister Henk Kamp to inform parliament about this investigation in spring 2016.