The Dutch parliamentary year starts on the third Tuesday in September.
On this day – known as Prince’s Day – the King and Queen travel in the Glass Coach to the Hall of Knights in The Hague.
Assembled there are the ministers, state secretaries, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, and distinguished guests.
Together, the Senate and the House of Representatives make up the States General.
The King opens the new parliamentary session of the States General by reading the Speech from the Throne.
In this official address, the King outlines the government’s plans for the coming year.
And then there is the ceremonial briefcase.
On Prince’s Day, the Minister takes the briefcase to the House of Representatives and presents the National Budget and Budget Memorandum.
The National Budget comprises the individual budgets of all ministries.
In essence, they are bills that must still pass through parliament.
In the briefcase, we can also find the Budget Memorandum which gives additional information about the budget.
In the Memorandum, the government unfolds its plans and provides the anticipated revenue and expenditure.
Revenue mainly comes from taxes and social insurance contributions,
but also other sources such as the sale of natural gas.
On the expenditure side, the government indicates how much it plans to spend, for instance on education, social security, health care and security.
It also comments on the national and international economic situation and gives an indications of the Dutch financial situation.
After Prince’s Day, it is the turn of the House of Representatives to respond to the government’s plans.
All the ministers and state secretaries assemble for the Parliamentary Debate on the Speech from the Throne,
which broadly discusses the government’s policy for the coming year.
The Prime Minister speaks on behalf of the government during the debate.
In October, the parliament debates financial aspects of the budget.
The Minister of Finance discusses the Budget Memorandum and budgetary policy.
In the following months, the budget of all government ministries are individually studied and discussed.
Once the members of parliament have given their consent, the plans can be put into practice.