Joint declaration – Government Consultations Netherlands - Germany 27 March 2023

Given the strong friendship between our peoples and countries, and in view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its repercussions on our countries and our continent, the fourth government consultations between the Netherlands and Germany since 2013 focused on our cooperation on security and defence, our joint efforts towards a stronger Europe and our aim to further advance our vibrant economies and societies.

Partners in Security and Defence

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their strong support for Ukraine's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. Both countries stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people against Russia’s continued illegal and unprovoked aggression. We will continue working together to achieve a just and lasting peace and a prosperous future for Ukraine by providing sustainable financial and humanitarian aid, as well as military equipment and sufficient training to enable Ukraine to defend itself. The Netherlands and Germany are committed to maintaining and where possible increasing the pressure on Russia to end the war, including through further restrictive measures. Countering sanctions circumvention is a key priority to tackle at European level, including via effective data sharing and analysis, engagement with the private sector, diplomatic outreach and additional sanctions.

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their strong commitment to ensuring accountability in accordance with international law for crimes and other atrocities committed on the territory of Ukraine through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at national or international level. Impunity is not an option.

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their strong support for the investigations by the International Criminal Court, and welcome the establishment of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression. They call for the implementation of the UN General Assembly resolution recommending the establishment of a register to document damages caused by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.

The Netherlands and Germany underline their joint commitment to combating the abduction of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation and to territories of Ukraine under Russian occupation, and recall that targeted attacks against innocent civilians, in particular children, constitute war crimes. Together we seek international action to raise international awareness and improve data collection. This is in line with Ukraine’s wish to achieve clear reporting of the situation of the missing children, preferably mandated by an international organisation.

The Netherlands and Germany reiterate their commitment to the reconstruction of Ukraine. In addition to contributing to Ukraine’s physical reconstruction, the Netherlands and Germany envision a broad process in the spirit of ‘Building Back Better’, and with a view to Ukraine’s path to EU accession.

Germany and the Netherlands will continue identifying possible synergies to enhance their combined military support to Ukraine. Measures such as the joint provision of self-propelled howitzers and the corresponding training of personnel, as well as the coordinated joint support of the EU training mission EUMAM Ukraine are a testimony to our determination to provide Ukraine with lasting support. Germany and the Netherlands will also explore the scope for joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine once again underlines the importance of NATO and a close transatlantic relationship. We highly value the necessary steps taken by NATO with regard to collective deterrence and defence in response to the invasion. The Netherlands and Germany underline their strong commitment to NATO as the backbone of our collective security. We will continue to support NATO’s political and military adaptations, which are necessary in order to meet the challenges of a more unpredictable and competitive world. We continue to value NATO’s unique role as an indispensable transatlantic forum for consulting, coordinating and acting on all matters related to Allied security. We regard a strong and united NATO, standing shoulder to shoulder with the EU, as essential for our security, now and in the future.

The Netherlands and Germany remain committed to a more capable Europe of Defence, which includes reinforcing NATO’s European pillar. In this spirit, we aim to further strengthen our common position in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy to promote the implementation of the Strategic Compass and the further development of the EU Command and Control (EU C2) structure, and we will work together in the first rotation of the new EU Rapid Deployment Capacity in 2025. We will also coordinate our positions when it comes to new EU strategic processes such as the EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence (EU SSSD), the EU Maritime Security Strategy (EU MSS) and the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP). We will also press for the full implementation of the PESCO commitments and the availability of more synergies between interdependent projects, e.g. in the fields of Military Mobility, and the Network of Logistic Hubs in Europe and Support to Operations (NetLogHubs).

The Netherlands and Germany continue to work together to strengthen EU-NATO cooperation. It is essential that NATO and EU jointly tackle common threats and challenges, to foster synergies, aim for complementarity, avoid unnecessary duplication and make optimum use of each other´s individual strengths. This will benefit NATO and the EU, as well as the Allies and the Member States, equally and irrespectively of whether they are members of one or both organisations.

On the basis of their Letter of Intent signed in October 2022, the Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their intention to enhance their common security by bolstering NATO’s air and missile defence capabilities in Europe through the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), with a view to reinforcing the European pillar of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence.

The Netherlands and Germany are committed to further advancing their longstanding close and unique defence cooperation. To this end, we will renew the 2019 ministerial Declaration of Intent on the further Enhancement of Bilateral Relations in the Field of Security and Defence. The forthcoming integration of the Dutch 13th Light Brigade into the 10th German Armoured Division will mark a new milestone in our cooperation.

We will continue our engagement with efforts to foster peace and stability, and our successful cooperation in missions mandated by the United Nations, NATO and the EU. We also intend to further intensify defence industry cooperation, both bilaterally as well as through the European Defence Fund, recommitting ourselves to the Joint Statement of 2021. We will continue to strive for joint capability planning, capability development, and procurement for our armed forces. Furthermore we will continue pressing for further harmonisation of export control policies in the EU.

A stronger Europe

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their commitment to defending and promoting the fundamental values and interests of the European Union. Reinforcing and protecting the rule of law and our democracy are priorities, as are respect for human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, equal rights for LGBTQI+ persons and gender equality all over the world. In this respect we also continue to jointly promote our feminist foreign policies. We support and encourage the European Commission in its full and effective use of all rule-of-law instruments. And we acknowledge the benefits of thirty years of the European Single Market, which we are committed to strengthening, as well as the free movement of persons in the Schengen area, which has produced tangible results for our citizens. We welcome the full application of the Schengen Agreement to those Member States who wish to join and who fulfil the necessary criteria. Moreover, we actively engage with third countries, including with global partners in regions such as the Indo-Pacific, in order to promote and protect the international legal order.

We agree that enhancing the open strategic autonomy of the European Union is necessary in order to cope not only with current challenges and priorities, but also with future issues, especially in areas where joint responses under changing geopolitical circumstances are needed, such as increasing the EU’s economic competitiveness and resilience and ensuring its economic security. Such responses should include finding common strategies to meet shared geoeconomic challenges, while ensuring sustainable and prudent fiscal policy, making optimum use of existing means. Germany and the Netherlands are acting in concert to achieve these goals and foster a modern EU budget. With regard to the Stability and Growth Pact, our countries are committed to the development of an effective economic governance framework based on transparency, predictability and equal treatment, which safeguards debt sustainability, strengthens economic growth, facilitates investment in the green and digital transitions, and enhances compliance and enforcement.

To further strengthen the EU’s position as a geopolitical actor, both the Netherlands and Germany – together with our partners – are committed to enhancing decision-making in areas of Common Foreign and Security Policy, including through the extension of qualified majority voting in areas such as sanctions, human rights declarations, and civilian Common Security and Defence Policy. We will continue to explore ways of achieving more effective decision-making in the Council, jointly examine the option of using passerelle clauses and encourage the use of constructive abstention.

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm that free, rules-based and sustainable trade is indispensable for our prosperity and strengthens our economic competitiveness. Ambitious trade policy and bilateral trade agreements with partners around the world are therefore essential, both to diversify our value chains and facilitate market access for our companies. The WTO remains the key organisation underpinning the rules-based trading system.

We will work together to make the EU ambitions of the Western Balkan countries a reality. Progress on rule-of-law reforms must be at the core of the accession process. The Netherlands and Germany will continue supporting all efforts to enhance good-neighbourly relations in the region, particularly with regard to helping to put the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo on a new and sustainable footing.

We will continue to make use of the newly established European Political Community as an important forum for Europe-wide exchange and cooperation between the EU Member States and other European partners respectively.
Both Germany and the Netherlands face the challenge of combating transnational organised crime. Current focal points include cross-border smuggling of drugs via logistical hubs and via postal and parcel services. Both countries are committed to preventing and combating all phenomena associated with transnational organised crime and will work to this end, for example, via the action plan of the coalition of European countries fighting organised crime. An additional focus is tackling illicit financial flows and money laundering by improving the detection and confiscation of criminal assets. In order to make full use of the instruments at the EU’s disposal, we also advocate involving the European Commission and its agencies and bodies, while taking account of their legal mandates.

With regard to migration, the Netherlands and Germany are committed to working together to tackle irregular migratory movements, in accordance with the European Council Conclusions of 9 February 2023 and the Dublin Regulation. Our countries will step up cooperation on developing comprehensive partnerships with third countries to limit irregular migration and foster return. In addition, efforts must be made to enhance control over the external borders, by improving early warning systems and aiming for visa-policy alignment by the EU’s neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the Netherlands and Germany support the Roadmap regarding the adoption of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum before the end of the current European Parliament’s legislative term, while striving for a balance between responsibility and solidarity.

We are also committed to continuing and strengthening our collaboration on combating precarious working and living conditions of migrant workers in our border regions. Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers is unacceptable. We need to ensure that migrant workers are treated decently, as part of our societies and in accordance with our respective laws. Furthermore, we will strive to enable migrants to improve the language and other skills they need to integrate in society and fulfil their labour market potential.

An Innovative and Future Proof Economy and Infrastructure

The Netherlands and Germany stand for a resilient and future-proof European economy. Therefore, our governments will play a proactive, constructive and leading EU role in this regard by working with other member states and international partners.

The Netherlands and Germany attach great importance to strengthening the EU’s technological sovereignty and leadership, and the EU’s industrial competitiveness. To that end, we agreed to cooperate on the Net-Zero Industry Act to promote the scale-up of clean technologies and reduce red tape on their development, to further streamline, speed up and facilitate IPCEIs, to continue to strengthen the Single Market, and to facilitate permitting for green energy projects. Furthermore, we agreed to cooperate on the Critical Raw Materials Act to improve knowledge sharing and monitoring of raw materials, accelerate the development of strategic mining, refining and recycling projects in the EU, and diversify strategic supply chain dependencies.

The Netherlands and Germany reiterated their continued support for joint collaboration in the Dutch-German Innovation & Technology Pact on themes of mutual interest, notably the energy transition, smart industry and key enabling technologies. New areas for collaboration will be investigated, including in the field of sustainable aviation, battery and solar technology. Collaboration on quantum technology should be strengthened.

Our countries will also continue to cooperate on the digital economy. In particular, we will work together on EU connectivity to ensure an evidence-based discussion on the issue of network fees, focused on arriving at a clear, fact-based problem definition before any instruments are considered. We also call on the European Commission to develop secure and open EU cloud certification schemes fit for the international context, without creating trade barriers or considerable adverse impact on European SMEs. Our countries underlined the importance of public values and digitalisation, and of finding solutions to create a safe and inclusive digital society.

EU businesses must make unprecedented investments to ensure the success of our transition to a green and digital economy. Enabling those businesses to raise the necessary funding from private sources is paramount in order to foster European competitiveness, open autonomy and sustained growth.

The Netherlands and Germany are committed to building a deep and fully functioning Capital Markets Union that serves our citizens and businesses and fosters the private investment necessary to address the challenges of the green and digital transitions. We believe that Europe’s capital markets are functioning below their full potential and that a stronger and more integrated EU capital market is vital. Besides our efforts to implement the 2020 CMU Action Plan and contribute to swift progress on current proposals, we will work jointly to ease capital market access for businesses, including start- and scale-ups, and mobilise new investment from institutional and private investors. To this end, we will also strive to find joint solutions that improve the European exit market for scale-ups.

With the recent German-Dutch climate consultations (October 2022) in mind, we reaffirmed our close cooperation on EU climate and energy policy, including within the EU Group of Friends for an Ambitious Climate Foreign Policy. We will continue our efforts to ensure the swift and ambitious implementation of the Fit for 55 package and the REPowerEU plan, and to set the EU on track to climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

In the run-up to COP28, we agreed to work together with the objective of raising climate ambitions worldwide, such as through the Climate Club. We reaffirm our commitment to generating international public support for the clean energy transition and phasing out fossil fuels, in line with the 1.5°C warming limit. We will work together to ensure implementation in both our countries.

The Netherlands and Germany will work together on an EU electricity market design more in keeping with a decarbonised, resilient, flexible and affordable energy system based on a high share of renewables.

We emphasised the importance of the extra LNG supply capacity realised over the past year and the current high gas storage levels in the Netherlands and Germany. We will continue our close cooperation regarding the security of the gas supply, both bilaterally and at EU level.

We agreed on the next steps for the Netherlands' participation in the H2Global initiative, and will develop a common vision on hydrogen import policies as well as a joint roadmap along the value chain. We agreed to work together more closely towards a synchronised coupling of our hydrogen grids, with the involvement of transmission system operators and large prospective hydrogen off-takers. Political decision-makers from both sides will strive to enable and deepen ongoing cooperation efforts. Key areas for dialogue were identified in a joint session on hydrogen infrastructure. A follow-up meeting at the end of 2023 will allow us to take stock of the progress made and to discuss the way forward. We emphasised the relevance of well interconnected infrastructure between both countries for the decarbonisation of industry and the mobility sector. We will jointly facilitate all projects aimed at establishing cross-border hydrogen corridors, including the Delta Rhine Corridor, and will identify the necessary steps to ensure ambitious implementation. The first two interconnections could be realised by 2027.

In view of the commitment made in the Esbjerg Declaration to accelerate the roll-out of offshore wind, we will jointly develop a regional vision for the necessary offshore grid development, including hybrid interconnection projects. We will also jointly explore the multifunctional use of fairways for both shipping and energy infrastructure in the Wadden Sea. We will continue our cooperation on the re-routing of shipping routes in order to secure potential locations for offshore wind energy.

The Netherlands and Germany reaffirm their desire for comprehensive cooperation in the North Sea, to support the ambitions of the energy transition, nature conservation and restoration efforts, and to enable other sustainable uses or measures in the North Sea.

Together with TenneT, our two governments are in the process of exploring and negotiating the potential full sale/acquisition of TenneT Germany (onshore and offshore). The aim of this process is to create strong, mutually independent national transmission systems operators (TSOs) well-equipped to meet the ambitious goals of the Dutch and German energy transitions. The joint objective is to establish in the course of this summer whether a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached. The Netherlands and Germany recognise that, to achieve these goals, it is vital that any transaction safeguard the continued cooperation between the TSOs. The Dutch and German governments commit to supporting collaboration between the TSOs and to further enhancing their ability to meet the demands of the energy transition.

Germany and the Netherlands share a long border and want to further improve and, where necessary, expand cross-border infrastructure. As part of an ‘intermodal dialogue’, workshops are being held jointly with Belgium on transport-planning methodology, as well as on possible projects with a cross-border impact on rail and waterways. This could also include infrastructure-capacity improvements relevant for strategic mobility. Going forward, we will examine whether further studies on potential projects should be started. With regard to rail, an exchange of information on several important rail connections like Groningen-Bremen (cf. Lelylijn extension) and Amsterdam-Berlin, Eindhoven-Venlo-Düsseldorf, the Rhein-Ruhr Rail Connection (3RX) and the North Sea Baltic freight corridor could be considered.

To safeguard the role of aviation in a sustainable future and to enhance its successful transition, both countries agreed to step up cooperation and take part in a European leaders’ group with a number of like-minded countries. This group will develop strategies and policies with regard to ramping up the production, and further incentivising the use, of sustainable aviation fuels, as well as supporting disruptive innovations in the aerospace industry.

Germany and the Netherlands are working closely in the field of aviation-security technology. A cooperation agreement for research and development projects was signed in 2013 and extended in 2020. Aviation security checks are facing enormous technology-driven changes. The introduction of automatic cabin baggage screening systems could significantly increase the security of these checks and reduce personnel costs at the same time. We are driving forward the necessary changes in EU legislation and are conducting joint studies and trials.

The Netherlands and Germany will exchange knowledge and facilitate cooperation in the field of digitalisation and automated navigation/autonomous driving. Furthermore, the two countries will exchange knowledge on cross-border use cases concerning the digitalisation of freight transport, logistics and mobility. To this end, a roundtable with experts from both countries will take place before summer 2023.

Germany and the Netherlands will further intensify cooperation in the field of national implementation plans on charging infrastructure. The Netherlands will host exchanges on: 1) heavy-duty transport-charging infrastructure (including hydrogen); and 2) charging infrastructure for passenger cars. Both countries welcome further cooperation on facilitating the charging of zero-emission heavy-duty transport on cross-border routes, such as a feasibility study on the deployment of cross-border dynamic charging infrastructure.

The Netherlands and Germany agree that further cooperation within the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) is essential, in order to ensure efficient, sustainable and resilient navigation on the Rhine, both now and in the future. Furthermore, our countries will continue and intensify their cooperation on climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. In addition, we will continue and intensify our cooperation on water management and our knowledge exchange regarding the risks of droughts, floods and pollution. To this end, Germany and the Netherlands underline the importance of the cooperation between the CCNR and the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR), where measures are discussed with actors from different sectors.

Bilateral Relations for a Liveable Society

The Netherlands and Germany both reaffirm and aim to strengthen their dialogue structures. Our triannual government consultation mechanism serves as the main coordination platform for our relationship. In addition, we maintain a range of close bilateral ministerial contacts and more ad hoc thematic consultations at political level, such as joint cabinet meetings on climate policy and energy.

Our relationship is maintained and strengthened through ties not only between our governments but also between our peoples, and these involve a wide range of economic, cultural and civil society actors.

In many areas our countries continue to serve as key points of reference for each other. The Netherlands and Germany will evaluate existing dialogue structures and jointly create an informal platform to exchange views and develop concrete Dutch-German initiatives. It is our intention to reinvigorate consultations between stakeholders from the business and research communities in a periodic bilateral Dutch-German Forum to discuss the most pressing challenges our countries face.

In addition, the Netherlands and Germany would like to initiate a consultation instrument for young people. A first youth dialogue will be held before our next consultations, resulting in a youth-participation element at the official consultations. Our foreign ministries will also initiate a ‘Joint Dutch-German Diplomatic Training Programme’ to create more synergy and closer cooperation between our Foreign Services.

The Netherlands and Germany are committed to facilitating, and strengthening cooperation on, cross-border work, so that all can reap the benefits offered by our border region. We are determined to address challenges that inhabitants of the border region and cross-border workers face, for instance with regard to social security and taxation.

The Netherlands and Germany will share more knowledge and experience in order to facilitate an inclusive, accessible and sustainable cultural sector. Both countries underline the importance of the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles, and are committed to intensifying their efforts to resolve issues relating to Nazi-confiscated art. Our countries will establish close cooperation to address the legacy of colonial heritage, for example on the issue of provenance research, and in projects such as the MuseumsLab.