The Dutch Council of State recently ruled that potential applicants should have the right to compete in a transparent procedure when scarce authorisations are allocated. This right to compete is based on the Dutch principle of equality, and is inspired by the European principles of equal treatment and transparency. Until this ruling, most scarce authorisations in the Netherlands were granted for an indefinite period of time, with no transparent allocation procedure. The question which follows is: should these scarce authorisations be withdrawn, or would this be contrary to the principle of legal certainty? By looking at the definition of a scarce authorisation and the development of the principles under EU, ECHR and Dutch case law, I conclude that competent authorities are allowed to withdraw the old scarce authorisations ex officio after a transitional period or payment of compensation. However, in my opinion, competent authorities are not obliged to withdraw old scarce authorisations, since old scarce authorisations cannot be amended substantially and therefore will become available in due time. In this way, old scarce authorisations remain intact for a longer period of time and, therefore, the infringement of the right of property is reduced. In other words, in the end, competent authorities should be allowed to decide what the best option is: either (1) withdrawing the authorisations ex officio after a transitional period or payment of compensation or (2) awaiting a request to amend the authorisation – with due regard to the circumstances of the case.
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