Council of Ministers of the Netherlands

Council of Ministers of the Netherlands

The Dutch Council of Ministers is the executive council of Dutch government, formed by all the ministers. This executive council initiates laws and policy. The Council of Ministers is distinct from the Cabinet which also includes state secretaries. State secretaries do not attend the Council of Ministers unless they are requested to do so and they do not have voting rights.

The council of ministers meets every week on Friday in the Trêveszaal (the Room of Treaties) which forms part of the Binnenhof. It makes decisions by means of collegiate governance. All ministers, including the Prime Minister, are (theoretically) equal. These meetings are chaired by the prime minister. Behind the closed doors of the Trêveszaal, ministers can freely debate proposed decisions and express their opinion on any aspect of cabinet policy. Once a decision is made by the council, all individual members are bound by it and are obliged to support it publicly. If a member of the cabinet does not agree with a particular decision he will have to step down. Generally much effort is put into reaching relative consensus on any decision. A process of voting within the Council does exist, but is hardly ever used.

Together with the Queen the Council of Ministers forms Government, also known as the Crown, which makes all the major decisions. In practice the Queen does not participate in the daily decision-making of government, although she is kept up to date by weekly visits (on Tuesday) of the Prime Minister. The Dutch constitution does not speak of cabinet, but instead only of the Council of Ministers and Government.

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