Founding conference of the Netherlands Institute for Law and Governance
The Netherlands Institute for Law and Governance (NILG) was founded on 16 November 2009. To mark this occasion a conference was organised with as its theme: public/private: interweaving or disentangling? The key issue centred upon how public and private interests can be balanced using legal tools. In these times of perceived crisis (financial, climate and moral) should the government tighten its hold on the reins or, on the contrary, should responsibilities be more properly shared?
In preparation for the conference the NILG had several studies carried out related to the conference theme. These studies addressed the question of whether the “magic line” of Verhoeven (1970) is still tenable, how people view (partial) privatisation and how things stand with the deregulation of local authorities. On the basis of these studies the NILG made a film, which was shown at the opening of the conference. The findings of the studies have now been published in the conference collection (available only is Dutch).
During the conference the conference theme was discussed from a national, a European and an international perspective. The scientists/columnists Dorien Pessers, Marc Chavannes and Frank Ankersmit were also present to make critical comments. The different perspectives and opinions are also included in the conference collection. Minister Hirsch Ballin was unfortunately unable to attend because of a debate in the Dutch Lower Chamber. He relayed instead a video message for the NILG, which was played at the conference.
Lively discussion took place both during the parallel sessions (themes: ‘the government at the front door’, ‘hybrid organisations’ and ‘social markets’) and during the plenary debate. Many participants were critical of the blurring of public and private responsibilities. On the other hand, doubts were voiced regarding the need and the practical feasibility of disentangling the two spheres. Within this contradiction it was agreed that the legal dimension should play a greater role in shaping the relationship between the public and the private spheres.