The Netherlands has a rich history of private participation in the development of its public infrastructure, dating back to the country’s beginnings in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, the idea of formalized PPP immigrated to the Dutch political establishment in the 1980s from the United Kingdom’s experimentation with private finance initiatives. As a solution to the country’s budgetary woes, the Dutch government attempted PPP for a couple of tunnel projects at the end of the decade. Unfortunately, these projects experienced cost overruns and unpopularity, and the idea was abandoned for future projects until the late 1990s.
In 1999, the Ministry of Finance established the PPP Knowledge Centre, which drove much of the policy discussion on PPP until 2006. In 2004, the European Commission published a Green Paper on Public-Private Partnerships and Community Law on Public Contracts and Concessions. This paper currently serves as the legal guidance for Dutch PPP, and served as a catalyst for additional PPP development in the Netherlands. In 2006, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management started a PPP unit, beginning a rigorous campaign for PPP development. The success of this unit was followed shortly thereafter by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment developing its own PPP unit, and later by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality. Cooperation between these three units led to the fast development of the Netherland PPP market and best practices, including standardized contracts, uniform reporting to Parliament, and standardized risk matrixes. This work precipitated project responsibility to fall to the executing ministry, with essential framework developments from the Ministry of Finance.
The Netherlands has developed its PPP selection process over the past decade, paying special attention to streamlining and publicizing the process to attract potential investors. The idea of creating an efficient and expeditious process was developed from the necessity to attract the private partners drawn to the larger PPP markets in France and the United Kingdom. This is also why the Netherlands only procures Design-Build-Finance-(Operate)-Maintain PPP projects. The Netherlands developed a small but dedicated group of civil servants, fostered by PwC, to create an enabling PPP environment. The Dutch approach to PPP selection is encompassed in three main analyses: Market Scan, Public-Private Comparator, and Public Sector Comparator.