SER President Alexander Rinnooy Kan

I went to the Hague today, to the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER), accompanying my new President, Staffan Nilsson, and his Head of Private Office, Rolf Eriksson, to a working meeting with the President of the SER, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, and his Secretary General, Véronique Timmerhuis. A number of points were on the agenda. The SER has graciously agreed to provide the presidency of the network of national economic and social councils and similar institutions of the European Union, to which the EESC also belongs, for 2011. At the same time, European Commission President Barosso recently wrote to the EESC, requesting that it activate the network of national economic and social councils in the context of the Europe2020 Strategy. The SER’s Presidency will include two traditional set-piece meetings; a gathering of the Secretaries-General around May, and a meeting of the Presidents and their Secretaries-General around November. So there was a working discussion about prospects and possible themes and working methods. Alexander Rinnooy Kan gave a truly fascinating account of the Dutch consultative economy model. Truly, a culture of consultation permates the whole of Dutch society. In that context, we were visiting the Netherlands just as the new government finally came into being, and there was a frisson of excitement and speculation about the new political landscape.