For an informed debate about a new Company Register Act, access to information about the costs of the company register, implemented by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, is of crucial importance. The Dutch Chamber of Commerce has not filed annual accounts. Open State Foundation therefore filed a FOIA request to make these annual accounts public.
The implementation of the Company Register Act is subject of discussion in the House of Representatives. ‘An important aspect of this debate will be access to open data from the company register’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘If financial consequences for the Chamber of Commerce are presented as a possible obstacle, then it must be made clear how much the implementation of the company register actually costs.’
A similar FOIA request was filed in 2015 in order to get access to the 2014 financial statements of the Chamber of Commerce. It turned out that the costs for management and exploitation of the company register by the Chamber of Commerce were significantly higher than those of company registers in countries where data from the register are available as open data.
In addition to the financial statements and the costs of implementing the Company Register Act, Open State Foundation also requested the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate information on the financial contributions of other governments and government agencies for the use of data from the company register. Dutch government authorities, such as municipalities, provinces and water boards, use the company register for their public tasks and pay an annual amount to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.
In the Netherlands, in contrast to countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Norway and Denmark, the Dutch company register is closed and data in the register are not freely accessible as open data to everyone. ‘Because the company register is not available as open data, social and economic benefits are missed every day and innovation is hampered’, says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. ‘Now that the House of Representatives is considering the Company Register Act, it is important to know how much the implementation of the company register actually costs’.