Joint statement of France and the Netherlands

France and the Netherlands intend to deepen and strengthen their bilateral relationship to defend our shared European values, and they recognize the need for a strong Europe, capable of promoting its vision of a rules-based international order underpinned by standards and rooted in multilateral cooperation. This will enable a common approach to effectively address the global challenges facing our countries and the European Union as a whole. 

France and the Netherlands are united by their shared European values

Our countries reaffirm their commitment to defend the fundamental values of the European Union. They intend to support the effective and timely implementation of the Regulation establishing a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget, based on the rule of law, which entered into force at the beginning of the year and thus applies to EU funds committed since 1 January 2021.

From that point of view, they call for all relevant European instruments to be used in order to ensure compliance with our shared standards. Both countries fully support the European Commission in its important duty to ensure that our common values are being upheld in all Member States and welcome the requirement that sufficient guarantees must be in place before national recovery and resilience plans can be approved.

France and the Netherlands also intend to promote respect for the rule of law, human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, equal rights for LGBTQI+ persons and gender equality all over the world, in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024 and the EU Gender Action Plan III. France and the Netherlands are determined to encourage the European Union to use every instrument at its disposal to pursue this goal. In that regard, the new cross-cutting human rights sanctions regime should be used to its full potential. 

France and the Netherlands are particularly concerned about the undermining of freedom of expression, academic freedoms and freedom of the press by both State and non-State actors. They reaffirm that it is essential for each person to be able to freely express their opinion, within legal limits. France, with the support of the Netherlands, will treat the protection of EU fundamental values as a matter of utmost importance throughout its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

France and the Netherlands recall their convergence on the Conference on the Future of Europe which must be an open, inclusive and transparent process aimed at achieving concrete results and bringing the EU closer to its citizens, especially to the benefit of European youth. They recall that this initiative is an opportunity to work particularly on the values which make up our strength and our identity as Europeans. Both countries also firmly intent on implementing a joint Franco-Dutch exercise within the framework of the Conference.

France and the Netherlands work towards achieving the highest levels of economic prosperity, based on sustainable and green growth as well as the ability for the Union to safeguard its interests.

Our two countries recall they strongly agree on the aim of preventing differences in the level of prosperity and economic resilience between the Member States from increasing and of enhancing overall economic convergence, competitiveness and resilience across the EU.

The current crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has also proven more than ever before that solidarity and resilience with the ultimate goal of preserving the highest level of well-being for EU citizens, are fundamental to our societies. The EU has been successful in ensuring the supply of vaccines for all its citizens, while remaining at the forefront of the international effort through the provision of doses and the support to the development of production lines in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

In the short term, the most important task for our two countries will be to tackle this pandemic by offering vaccinations to our citizens. But France, the Netherlands and the EU will only be safe if the whole world is safe. Our two countries support universal and equitable access to quality vaccines as a global public good and to this effect, have pledged together 80 million doses to help vulnerable countries. In this regard, France and the Netherlands also support a public health approach, under the leadership of a reformed WHO, in order to guarantee universal and equitable access to health tools. Adopting a One Health approach is also crucial to prevent further pandemics. For the long-term, France and the Netherlands will partner up with other EU Member States to strengthen the security of our supply of health products and tackle vulnerabilities in the supply chains, including when necessary by stimulating sustainable and innovative production and technologies in Europe, to enhance our global health resilience. 

France and the Netherlands both attach great importance to advancing the EU’s strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy, in line with the European Council Conclusions of 1-2 October 2020. As the EU enters the recovery phase, we must be driven by ambition. France and the Netherlands reiterate that their current economic recovery effort is focused on modernising the Member States’ economies, strengthening economic convergence and reducing disparities as well as strengthening the means for the Union to define its own priorities in an interconnected world. The EU and its Member States should be able to take and implement autonomous decisions without being compromised by unwanted dependencies, while staying true to the principles of openness and international cooperation. European investment should be directed to green and digital twin transitions, also after the immediate recovery.

These green and digital transitions are paramount to the realisation of a Union capable of relying on its economy and values. France and the Netherlands support the initiatives aimed at reinforcing the Union’s capacities and autonomy in the area of technology, as essential components of the digital and green transition towards a competitive Europe. A high level of cybersecurity and innovation are also of utmost importance to Union’s resilience. As part of enhancing their cooperation in the digital sphere and in order to realize these ambitions, France and the Netherlands support the ambition of the European Union in the area of quantum technology and will sign a long term MoU to jointly invest in the booming European quantum innovation ecosystem. France and the Netherlands furthermore recall their commitment to the EU’s climate and energy objectives, namely at least 55% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and the aim to be climate-neutral by 2050. To that end, they welcome the ambitious proposals of the climate-energy legislative package presented by the Commission and will pursue common objectives throughout the negotiation: supporting innovation and industrial transitions, ensuring effective decarbonisation, technological neutrality and social fairness. 

As the EU is stepping up its climate ambitions and policies, there is a risk of this leading to an increase of emissions in other parts of the world through carbon leakage. The Netherlands and France consequently see value in a Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism, which serves as a climate measure that effectively mitigates carbon leakage risks while fully complying with WTO rules. Eventually, France and the Netherlands must ensure that they maintain and strengthen European security and resilience and their partners’, while taking the lead with regard to carbon-free technologies.

France and the Netherlands support the agreement reached at the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on a two-pillar solution to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, as endorsed by the G20 Ministers in July, and will work to finalise the design elements and address the remaining issues by October 2021. They also commit to the swift implementation of this agreement within the EU.

To achieve these goals, France and the Netherlands acknowledge that the EU must be a powerful and effective international actor which is loyal to its alliances.

More than ever, France and the Netherlands believe that a consensus on how to bolster Europe’s strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy, in line with the European Council Conclusions of 1-2 October 2020, is necessary in order to further strengthen Europe’s role as a global player that is resilient and in charge of its own future to ensure our long-term prosperity. In doing so, the EU must uphold its commitment to open economies and societies and avoid protectionism. Against this background, the two countries pledge to pursue convergence on initiatives that strengthen the Single Market, digitalisation, create a level playing field for European companies and an open, sustainable, fair equal, and assertive trade policy, including ambitious requirements for companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence on their global value chains. 

France and the Netherlands acknowledge the need for a resilient and capable Europe to take more responsibility for its own security and defence, and to allocate the necessary resources to do so. To that end, they are committed to working towards an ambitious and actionable Strategic Compass that will enhance and guide the implementation of the level of ambition on security and defence for the years to come. France and the Netherlands are committed to preserving and enhancing their close cooperation on regions of shared strategic interest such as in the Sahel, the Levant, the Gulf or the Indo-pacific. France and the Netherlands reaffirm their strong support to the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) as an efficient framework to enhance common European strategic culture.

In light of the deteriorating global security and geopolitical environment, France and the Netherlands recognize that NATO is the cornerstone of the collective defence policy of both countries and, in the context of the revision of its Strategic Concept, underline that strong and effective EU-NATO cooperation is more essential than ever. France and the Netherlands recognise that both the EU and NATO can support and complement each other when it comes to the expertise and instruments at our disposal. To that end, France and the Netherlands aim to adopt an ambitious Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation in December 2021.

There is a need to strengthen European industrial and technological sovereignty, including by reducing European strategic dependencies, protecting critical infrastructure and developing key technologies. In that regard, France and the Netherlands recognize that the EU industrial strategy is a key lever. They advocate the setting up of common European industrial projects funded and accelerated by the EU and Member States in key ecosystems, such as electronics, health, cloud, and hydrogen. France and the Netherlands welcome the proposal of the EU Commission to set up an Observatory for Critical Technologies.

Advancing the EU’s role as a global player also includes furthering our cooperation with partner countries. France and the Netherlands will collaborate to enhance Team Europe efforts to support a green, inclusive and resilient recovery in partner countries, particularly in Africa and fragile states. Both countries will jointly promote the common objectives of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies (18 May 2021), aimed at addressing financing needs to support a sustainable recovery and to reinforce the African private sector, as long-term growth driver. These partnerships need to be fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, and the EU must provide attractive European development opportunities to crowd in private sector finance. France and the Netherlands will maintain their commitment to strengthening the EU-Africa strategic relations with particular attention to stability in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. 

In light of the current situation in Afghanistan, France and the Netherlands call for an unhindered access of humanitarian aid, notably through a reopened and secured Kabul Airport. They demand that the Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or shelter, finance or train terrorists.  They recall the importance of upholding human rights, including those of women, children and minorities. France and the Netherlands will carry on working together on the protection of Afghan refugees. 

France and the Netherlands underline the need for a strengthened and effective common European migration and asylum policy based on the principles of solidarity and responsibility. Such a system is needed to better manage primary irregular arrivals, strengthen the external borders of Schengen, prevent irregular secondary movements, guarantee an effective return policy, prevent human trafficking and smuggling, deter any attempts to instrumentalise illegal migration and ensure our capacity to provide swift international protection to those eligible for it. Furthermore, we need to ensure the effective implementation of the EU’s migration and asylum acquis. Both countries underscore the need to strengthen the EU’s partnerships with the main countries of origin, reception and transit to address root causes of irregular migration and strengthen protection and reception systems in third countries. 

France and the Netherlands acknowledge the need for Member States’ practices in the reception of asylum seekers to be harmonized. They recognize that the ongoing work on the reform of the European asylum and migration policy must also address the divergences in asylum application acceptance rates between Member States. They believe that the phenomenon of multiple asylum applications, which leads to irregular secondary movements, should be addressed. 

France and the Netherlands believe it necessary to tackle the challenges faced by the Schengen Area in order to ensure its sustainability and a strengthening of our external borders. This requires a higher level of police and judicial cooperation, and stronger evaluation and governance mechanisms. France and Netherland stress the importance of determined common fight against organised crime with a particular attention to drug trafficking and money laundering, in order to prevent the infiltration of organised crime into legal economy. 

As border countries in the Antilles, France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to deepen bilateral and regional cooperation to tackle security challenges in both in Europe and in South America. France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands underline the importance of their defence and coastguard cooperation in the region. In the fight against serious and organised crime, including narcotics trafficking, France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to continue their close operational cooperation and their work to promote the San José Agreement among States which have not yet signed or ratified it. Both countries would also like to step up their operational exchanges. 

France and the Netherlands intend to strengthen existing dialogue structures

Bilateral dialogue between the two counties has been constantly increasing in recent years. France and the Netherlands would like to create enhanced forums for dialogue, in order to support and expand this process.

Both countries plan to create a regular government consultation mechanism, covering the key areas of the bilateral relationship. These consultations will take the form of regular meetings between the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, along with members of their government responsible for the main areas of cooperation between the two countries, particularly foreign affairs, defence, security and justice, economy and finance, migration, innovation, energy and climate.

At the level of government administration, dialogue on international and European issues will be strengthened with the creation of annual consultations between secretaries-general of the Foreign Ministries, as well as an enhanced partnership between the directorates responsible for the European Union within each Ministry.

France and the Netherlands are aware that the bilateral relationship involves a wide range of economic, cultural and civil society actors, and will set up annual dialogue organized by their Foreign Ministries, uniting public figures from various backgrounds around a European or international theme of interest to both countries. This dialogue, to be held alternately in each country, will be an informal way to exchange views and develop concrete initiatives.