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Shell’s departure deals blow to Dutch pro-business credentials

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Shell’s departure deals blow to Dutch pro-business credentials

25 Nov 2021

Stef Blok had an unenviable task for any economy minister last week: explaining how his country was about to lose one of its most high-profile multinational companies.

The decision by oil and gas group Royal Dutch Shell to end its dual corporate structure and move its tax base to the UK, after being in the Netherlands for more than a century, was a “sensitive loss” for the country, Blok told the Dutch parliament. It is particularly embarrassing for the pro-business caretaker government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Shell’s decision sheds light on the shifting business environment in a country often held up as among the most open and competitive in Europe. Companies in the Netherlands are having to contend with a changing public mood that favours tighter corporate tax rules and robust measures to counter climate change, while a poll conducted by Statistics Netherlands last year showed more than 75 per cent of respondents favoured greater use of renewable energy.

“Shell’s move is not good for the Dutch business reputation,” said Ingrid Thijssen, president of the country’s confederation of industries and employers. “Headquarters of companies are where the main decisions are made. Your heart is where your home is and we are worried about the future.”

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