Dutch Coalition Agreement on FP

What are the current key foreign policy principles of the Netherlands? The coalition agreement (Regeerakkoord) is the source of the information below.

Diederik Samson (left, Labour) and Prime Minister Mark Rutte (right, VVD)

Diederik Samson (left, Labour) and Prime Minister Mark Rutte (right, VVD)

The current cabinet – governing since October 2012 – in the Netherlands is composed of only two parties – PvdA (Labour) and VVD (Liberal Republicans). The motto of the Coalition Agreement is “Building Bridges”, and two chapters – number 4 and 5 – are dedicated to Europe and the world, respectively.

Europe

The first paragraph of chapter 4 of the coalition agreement explains along which principles and concepts the Netherlands approach Europe,

Europe is of major importance for preserving our peace, safety and wealth. That’s where we earn our money; and our jobs are, for a large part, dependent on it. The internal market is the core of European cooperation. Furthermore, by working together we strengthen our geopolitical position with respect to upcoming and already established global powers. Many Europeans also feel connected though the ideologies of democracy, the rule of law, and equal treatment. This in the basis with which the Netherlands approaches it’s role in Europe.

If things go well in Europe, things go well in the Netherlands. A crisis in Europe has a larger impact in the Netherlands, than in many other countries. That is why we have a strong interest in a strong Europe, quickly overcoming the crisis. [freely translated by me]

Further points the coalition made:

  • The economic benefits of the EU are underlined, and they call the responsibility of EU member states to keep their government spending in check – so as to prevent deficits above the 3% threshold.
  • When it comes to the EU, the orientation of the agreement is focused on the economic union though less so on the political one, it seems (influence of VVD, traditionally a party in favour of small government).
  • It is in favour of a banking union, supports decreasing of the agricultural subsidies, is interested in knowing which policies could be returned to the national governments, and supports the possibility for a member state to leave Schengen, the Eurozone and the Union, on a consensual basis.

Foreign policy

Traditionally, the Netherlands has had a strong international orientation, because it is in our interest to do so, as well as it is a conviction. The Dutch, and Dutch companies, have important interests abroad. Foreign policy is focused on looking after, and protecting these interests, and seeks to make advances in the rule of law and human rights. The poorest are central in development cooperation. Our military must remain able to guarantee the safety of our country internationally, and contribute to global peace and safety. For that, [the military] must posses high quality units and equipment. In this way, we will serve international stability, safety and prosperity. [freely translated by me]

Again some key points

  • There will be a cut of the budget of diplomatic missions, substituted through a further cooperation within the EU, and the priority of the remaining missions should be economic diplomacy, where strengthening economic and trade ties is key.
  • The Netherlands is willing to contribute to the peace and safety of the Middle East, through the use of it’s cordial ties with both Israel and the Palestinian Authorities.
  • There is a clear focus on the economic interests of the Netherlands abroad, where development cooperation is increasingly linked to international trade.
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