When the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure Melanie Schultz van Haegen recently addressed a conference on the subject of PPP, many in the room noticed that she did so without the use of notes.
Of course the fact that she also spent 20 minutes demonstrating her commitment to the model didn't go unnoticed either.
The importance of a government with knowledge of how PPPs can be best used and a pragmatic attitude to delivering infrastructure cannot be stressed enough in the current era of lean public balance sheets and shaky funding markets.
The Netherlands, along with the Benelux region in general (and to a lesser degree Germany until it gets its federal pipeline in order), are the best example Europe has of this at present.
France may be preparing to deliver a number of prison and school/university PPPs in 2012 (along with its continued 2011 pipeline) and Germany's A-series road concessions will prove attractive to bidders of the right size. But it is the Netherlands that continues to stoke interest with large federal schemes such as the billion-euro A1/A6 highway expansion and municipal schemes such as the Regiotram and Eindhoven schools PPP.
Although a shortlist of three bidders is expected on the first of four A1/A6 projects by February, it has three schemes still to tender.
On top of this, there is a considerable amount of "low-hanging fruit" due to emerge in 2012, says a lawyer in the region.
As well as the A15, there is the A27 Hooipolder to Luneppen, the N18 Varseveld to Enschede and three water lock projects that might be procured as design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM): Volkerak, Ijmoend and Limmel.
Although the market has its drawbacks (it is dominated by a small number of strong local teams with a perceived favouritism shown by the authorities) rumours of new projects are "far better than a few years ago", he says.
"More regional local projects should also move forward, not just DBFM but with [other types of] finance to get the private sector involved."
One project that may attract the most interest is a rail scheme that would run close to the A1/A6 between Schiphol Airport and Almere.
The rail authority Prorail had rejected DBFM as a procurement model over a year ago but a recent change in its management structure means that PPP could be back on the cards it is believed.
If the Minister for Infrastructure has anything to do with it, it’s a rumour worth noting.