For a Better Netherlands – VPRO documentary – 2012

Holland hasn’t been looking beyond its borders in the last decade If we had, we’d have seen how people there deal with known Dutch problems like the high cost of healthcare, education and stimulating the economy In other countries, they’re much better at it They make bold decisions based on bold views with spectacular results The Norwegian government sends geriatric patients to sunny Spain saving a lot of money The New Zealand government has taken charge of pharmaceutics, saving money In Finland, teachers have university degrees They have the best education system in the world Ten years ago, Germany made huge investments in sustainable industry which now generates 300 billion euros a year This is what’s in store Pre-school teachers have to do a three-year university course There’s at least one teacher in every group I got into politics to change the world We have now reached the point where renewable energy can supply an important part of our energy demand This is Backlight, offering inspiration for the future of the Netherlands expedition improving the Netherlands Everyone knows there are more and more elderly people with more and more health issues That’s going to cost us more and more In Norway, they have come up with a spectacular idea to reduce these health issues It improves their quality of life, and it’s a lot cheaper But it requires a creative approach to European crisis Here in Spain lies he solution to one of the big problems in the Netherlands: The rising cost of geriatric care Norway had the same problem Jon Haavardsholm, former director of a nursing home in Oslo, found a solution He came up with a way for Norwegian seniors to grow old happily under the Spanish sun It’s good for the patients, and much cheaper than in Norway The Costa Blanca is teeming with elderly winter visitors But when it’s time to go into a nursing home, the Dutch have to go home Just like the Norwegians, in the old days But Jon wondered why Norwegians couldn’t spend their last days under the Spanish sun Nursing homes are a huge debit entry for the government The Norwegian government might be wealthy but wasn’t keen on the idea of sending its seniors to Spain at first But Jon Haavardsholm had a card to play A place in a nursing home in Norway costs about 95,000 euros per year

In Spain, that same place costs about 50,000 euros The measure not only applies to elderly in nursery homes People with rheumatism and those who need home care can receive a treatment in Spain funded by the Norwegian government The Norwegian government is smart

It is cheaper to have the elderly grow old in Spain than in Norway And the oldies prefer it, too But there’s another winner. The Spanish economy, that’s suffering in the crisis is happy to accommodate them Oscar Nombela Olmo runs a chain of Spanish nursing home complexes The Norwegians are sold on the idea He’s hoping to welcome more Dutch people in the future Oscar has already reserved some spots for them Everyone knows the Dutch education system is under pressure Bigger classes, education reforms, and the quality is sub-standard In a country not far from here things are different Finland has the best education system in Europe Even though they don’t spend any more money on it than Holland It requires a different view on teachers and making some drastic decisions We’re not happy with the Dutch education system The results aren’t high enough And the countless changes over time haven’t led to the desired results In Finland, people are happy with it And rightly so The Finnish education system has been declared the best in Europe for years Squarrel? – No, with an e Squerrel? This has to do with how their view on the teaching profession Teachers have the same status as doctors or lawyers It’s one of the most highly esteemed professions So the salary must be pretty high Is there a difference in the way the teachers are trained? All teachers have university degrees In the early 70’s the Finnish government transformed its education system One of the biggest changes was that not only secondary school teachers but also primary school teachers had to have a university degree The idea was to offer every child the best possible education

The Finnish education system is so successful that 63 percent of these children will eventually go on to university In the Netherlands, only 41 percent do If you want to become a primary school teacher you need to get a university degree But that’s not all Before starting your university course, you have to take an entry exam which is not easy At this primary school in Turku, Finland we get a taste of the Finnish education system Is it really so different, given that these teachers have university degrees? Good And then comes There’s another difference in the way teachers are trained here The schools where the students get their work experience are not independent, but part of the university Saba Come and sit down and do your assignment Saba had a bit of a hectic day today That’s why I had a word with her It wasn’t going very well And Good It’s hard to have to wait your turn But after a while, they get it In the book you see lots of branches What was nice when I talked to Saba was that when she came back, she knew immediately that she wouldn’t get a turn if she didn’t raise her hand

And we hadn’t even discussed that I made a point of telling her to raise her hand. And she did Really? That means she got positive feedback straight away then Teachers can make their own decisions There are lots of ways to inspire pupils You can see what we’ve done straight away When the children are learning, you’re learning too And I can spend time with the children who are excited about what they learn The small children in particular are very enthusiastic Pre-school teachers do a three-year university course There is at least one teacher for every group Yes, everyone who works there has a university degree Everyone knows that healthcare is about to become unaffordable The increasing cost of drugs plays an important role in this This is because the pharmaceutical companies dictate the prices In a country far away, New Zealand, they have solved this problem But it did take some courage The former New Zealand Healthcare Secretary, Annette King you can now see her study via Skype came up with an idea to bring down the high cost of drugs It’s surprisingly simple Instead of the doctor, a committee of scientists decides which drug is best for which ailment There’s a public procurement for every drug This means companies are forced to offer the drug at a lower price They can do this because they don’t have to spend money on marketing: Doctor’s visits, conferences, and fun trips This way, every patient has a good drug and the overall costs are reduced This procurement model has become internationally known as the Kiwi Model The Kiwi Model has many advantages

But before we adopt it in Holland, we ask Belgium for advice Two GPs there are trying to get the model implemented But they discovered it wasn’t that easy Hello, have a seat This is communist GP Dirk van Duppen He discovered the model a few years ago when he was trying find out why drugs are so expensive He started his own research He found out that the same drugs in New Zealand are up to ten times cheaper He decided to write a book about the reason for these high prices and demonstrated how drugs would be much cheaper with the Kiwi Model I asked the experts, I started studying the literature I got so much information that I decided to write a book about it And it became a best-seller Liberal GP Jacques Germeaux also got frustrated by the high cost of drugs As a doctor, he couldn’t change that, but as a politician he could So he joined the Belgian parliament I got into politics to change the world I had a lot of questions, and then suddenly Dirk Duppen’s book was there With all the statistics and information that I didn’t have the time to delve into His book was proof of what I suspected but couldn’t sell yet He could How many cigarettes a day, young man? – Too many These problems we had been having in this country and which we knew would only get worse On the other side of the world, people had found a very efficient solution Without compromising the quality of healthcare I was a bit jealous that Dirk van Duppen, a communist, had discovered it It made me curious I fully agreed with him, if it was true, at least Stress, tension headache, and my body feels heavy But is it true what Doctor Dirk claims? Could the Kiwi Model really solve the problem of rising drug costs? There’s only one way to find out Look after yourself Have a good weekend And that’s by going to New Zealand yourself Jacques managed to convince the parliament to study the Kiwi Model In 2005, the so-called Kiwi Committee flew over But without Dirk They didn’t get me a ticket It was only for senators I wasn’t a senator The Committee left in good spirits and New Zealand welcomed them with open arms They even raised the Belgian flag The Kiwi Model is supported by senators from all political corners The most important visit was the one to the Health Secretary who took on the the pharmaceutical industry and, implemented the Kiwi Model, backed by the government: Annette King Everyone in the Committee agreed that the model was revolutionary

Cheaper, better, and more fair But while they were in a Belgian cafe in New Zealand the pharmaceutical lobby struck At that point, the pharmaceutical industry had already convinced the political party that something terrible was coming over from New Zealand In a country like Belgium where 25,000 scientists were employed in the pharmaceutical industry this could have terrible consequences if it was implemented in Belgium Even before we got back there was this huge cry of: What you guys are doing is not going to work We had a meeting at night in which the pharmaceutical industry put millions of euros on the table to make sure the Kiwi Model wouldn’t be realized The pharmaceuticals respond strongly because it means losing control over the doctor’s drug choices Until then, the pharmaceutical reps had free play Sometimes five of them would visit a day And they all pretty much had the same package And each one of them tried to persuade the doctor to prescribe their drug Every respected company had a cholesterol drug It’s an insane market This had nothing to do with medicine, this was pure commerce At a certain point I realised that I wasn’t driven by science or costs in the choices I made That’s how I allowed the companies that visited met to maybe not bribe me but very efficiently suggest their drugs Without paying attention to the cost They come round, offer you dinner or tickets to a football match and in a sneaky, commercial way without any scruples convinced me to prescribe this or another of their drugs If you weren’t careful, you’d get ten of these rep visits per day Their approach was downright aggressive In the Kiwi Model, the choices are made in advance Doctors don’t have to make that decision themselves The best products are selected based on scientific evidence The doctor can still choose from that list The Kiwi Model detaches doctors from the influence of the pharmaceuticals They have their drug formulary and can choose from that So there’s no need for any marketing The marketing budgets shrink, freeing up money for innovative research Right now, the marketing budget is twice as much as what’s invested in research Women find it a scary thing, and so do some pharmaceutical reps European Commissioner Neelie Kroes also studied the pharmaceutical industry She came to the same conclusion: The money spent on marketing is twice as high as the amount that’s spent on new drug research But what do you do with all that extra money if you adopt the Kiwi Model? In order to implement the Kiwi Model you need to make fundamental choices

In Belgium, the model was nipped in the bud So what is the recommendation for Holland? Everyone knows investing in sustainability is not one of our priorities In a country nearby, Germany politicians decided to do this years ago The German policy on sustainable energy has created 380,000 new jobs And the green energy industry generates more than 300 billion euros per year It seems like thinking of your children’s future can even be profitable Germany is a market leader in green energy In 2000, Social Democrat Hermann Scheer passed the energy law This law has indeed become the most successful law mobilizing sustainable energy in the whole world Ten years after the implementation of this law renewable energy has become an important economic pillar According to the latest figures, the sector is worth 300 billion euros The German share in the global market is 15 percent The country is a global leader in energy efficiency Peter Altmeier is Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Last summer, he travelled through Germany to see with his own eyes how the Energy Transition is going Germany wants renewable energy to provide 80 percent of the total demand by 2050 Thanks to this sustainable energy we have created 380.000 jobs It has had many positive effects as we need less oil and coal from abroad All companies involved in generating renewable energy are creating huge value and growth in this sector and is twice as strong as other sectors We’re also successful in the field of export as Germany has acquired a good reputation as an exporter of environmental products. We publish a Green Tech Atlas every 2 years It lists which German companies have good experiences with environmental technology We’ve heard that these companies get many assignments from abroad because people everywhere are thinking of ways to achieve economic success whilst protecting the environment The German government’s consistent choice of renewable energy has led to small and medium-sized companies all over Germany that supply innovative technology required to further develop renewable energy One of these companies is Younicos in Berlin It has been focusing on developing technology for energy storage recently The company is financed by investors who have a great deal of trust in sustainable development Younicos is expecting billions in turnover within three to five years This is a sodium-sulfur battery The battery stores excess solar and wind energy in times of low consumption We then take the energy out of the battery

when the sun and wind aren’t generating enough This unit has a capacity for 500 kW and three mega-watt hours So it could provide 500 households with six to twelve hours of energy What you see here is a simulator of energy supply system on Graciosa On the Azores island of Graciosa in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean Younicos is replacing the old diesel battery and supply green energy to the entire island By the end of 2014 the island should run autonomously on renewable energy Younicos specializes in sustainable energy supply on islands Aruba and the Maldives are interested, too The Azores archipelago is far removed from a continent so they can never install any cables and they’re forced here to use these generators to provide energy So we picked one Azores island to serve as a pioneer to prepare the Azores for the transition to renewable energy It’s particularly useful for islands because the cost of electricity is skyrocketing due to the rising oil prices Sustainable energy is more lucrative there than on the mainland This data is from the test model but the image you see is really from the island of Graciosa What is it made up of? Wind energy, solar energy The wind farms are mainly installed in the south The battery, generator and solar installation in the north And the users live mainly in the north and in smaller villages dotted around the island Obviously, this energy transition has a price tag But a year ago, the Germans said they prefer to pay more for electricity if it means not needing electricity from nuclear power anymore but instead get clean, green electricity Secondly, we will be paying more for our energy, electricity, now but this will change in 15 or 20 years Renewable energy won’t be subsidised any longer The old installations will continue to produce electricity but it will cost less, so electricity will be much cheaper in Germany We want renewable energy to go onto the competitive market so that it can continue to exist without funding That’s important to use, because if our energy is 80% renewable it should also be low priced considering Germany’s competitive position Meanwhile, the sustainable energy industry is one of the most interesting sectors for young people to work in Bj√∂rn Lang has just graduated and has only worked at Younicos for four weeks But he’s already in charge of renewable energy on Aruba This is an exciting field that’s still in development Nothing is set in stone yet But it’s not as uncertain as it was 15 years ago There aren’t only small companies now, there are big players too And these days, the most exciting developments are taking place here People are enthusiastic and realise how many areas it spans and that you can really make a change if you become involved in it Has it become cool – It is cool but it’s even becoming a bit less cool Because so many big companies are in it, it’s almost boring again Renewable energy is everywhere: Wind turbines, solar collectors We should leave the playful, experimental phase behind us and tell people that renewable energy has become

an important way of providing energy We should work on adapting our energy system and integrating this energy This is the Brandenburger Tor One of the most famous buildings in Berlin where there’s a light show here at the Festival of Lights Normally speaking this is seen as a waste of energy, right? Yes, but there are far better examples of inefficient uses of energy, like our heatings Heating houses in Germany makes up 40% of our primary need for energy You should study how energy is used and what it’s used for If we switched to renewable energy, which is technically possible you could enjoy an event like this guilt-free The Germans have it all worked out Clean energy created hundreds of thousands of jobs Once, the Netherlands were in the lead in terms of sustainable energy But in the last ten years, the Dutch have missed out on this green job generator When I got into renewable energy in the 1990s I could only dream of such a thing as the roof programme in Holland I am from Austria Austria was quite reserved in the way it dealt with renewable energy But at the time we had a project with a Dutch company to build roofs with integrated solar collectors Back in the 1990s this was revolutionary: In insulated tin roofs we built thin-layered modules In terms of technology coming up with new ideas, making solar cells more effective improving modules, the Netherlands was always involved But the execution of these ideas has slowed down Between the technical expertise they had and the actual application of it there was a large gap Holland has showed little interest in sustainability over the past ten years It’s no wonder the Germans are now far ahead of us But slowly, Holland seems to be rediscovering renewable energy The new government will soon get a visit from German Secretary Peter Altmeier He knows how to carry out an energy transition I look forward to working together with my Dutch colleagues I’d like to meet the new Environmental Secretary as soon as possible We have a lot to discuss It’s important to me that the German energy transition is carried out in our neighbouring countries as well I’m interested in the Dutch interests I’m looking forward to working closely together