Letter: Dutch secret of economic success

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The Independent Online
Sir: To my knowledge, Hamish McRae ("Slimmer governments under pressure to do more with less", 18 March) is the first publicly to identify one of Europe's best-kept secrets: the economic prowess of the Netherlands. It is said to set an example to Germany and France. Why not to the UK?

The Netherlands has signed up pragmatically to Maastricht. That also means the Social Chapter -yet its unemployment is lower than ours (a fact Tory propaganda could never acknowledge).

Even though in general wages are higher there (I envy my opposite number in the Netherlands, who earns at least a third more than I do, while costs and household expenditure are scarcely different), its per capita inward investment is, if not higher than ours, then pretty close to it - something else the Tories carefully conceal from us by concentrating on the inward investment total.

Apart from less dogmatic national management and a decentralised political system, some reasons for the Netherlands' success evident to any visitor are a better-educated population, a sense of citizenship as partnership at all levels of society, and pleasure taken in the present and the potential of the future - all in sharp contrast to what we find in Britain. Quick - look the other way or we may have to learn a few lessons.

RODEN RICHARDSON

London SE7

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