V. The Netherlands in the world

The Netherlands has long had a strong international orientation, both from conviction and because it is in our own interests. Dutch people and companies have major interests abroad. The Netherlands’ foreign policy is geared to advancing and protecting those interests, to promoting human rights and the international legal order. The central concern of our development cooperation policy is the world’s very poorest people. Our armed forces must remain capable, together with our international partners, of guaranteeing our country’s security and contributing to global peace and security. To this end, they must have high-quality units and matériel at their disposal. In this way we can serve the cause of international stability, security and prosperity.

•    In our bilateral and multilateral partnerships and contacts, we will promote sustainability, decent working conditions and respect for human rights and give special attention to the security of our energy and raw materials supply.
•    The Netherlands will strive to help international organisations function effectively.
•    Where possible the Netherlands will contribute to peace and security in the Middle East, making use to this end of our good relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
•    We will make savings on our network of missions, mainly by cooperating with our EU partners and with other countries in Europe and beyond.
•    From 1 January 2013 the Foreign Service will fall under the Senior Civil Service.
•    The Minister of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for coordinating Dutch foreign policy, including the government’s European agenda. Preparations for European Council meetings will be made under the direction of the Prime Minister.

The post of Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation will be established at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus confirming the importance of cohesion between these two policy areas. This will be seen, for example, in measures to enlarge the scope for small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in developing countries, and the forging of new coalitions between companies, NGOs and individuals, such as the coalition combating HIV/AIDS in Africa. The importance of the 3D approach (defence, diplomacy and development) for international crisis management operations and peace missions will be reflected in a new budget for international security.

•    To create opportunities for Dutch companies and knowledge institutions, we will work actively to strengthen international economic ties, and economic diplomacy will remain a major component of the work of our embassies and consulates.
•    The closer connection between foreign trade and development cooperation will also be reflected in the development, in collaboration with the business community, of a revolving fund of €750 million that will be financed in the years 2014-2016 from the development cooperation budget. This fund will be used to support investments in developing countries, especially by small and medium-sized enterprises.
•    Underscoring the importance of peace and crisis management operations for developing countries, a new permanent budget of €250 million will be established for international security, to begin operations in 2014. It will be available to cover international security-related spending that currently comes out of the Ministry of Defence budget. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation will be responsible for disbursing this budget in consultation with the Minister of Defence.
•    With a view to financing the new fund and the new budget, and as a contribution towards solving the Netherlands’ overall financial problems, there will be cuts to the development cooperation budget and the Ministry of Defence budget, rising by 2017 to €1 billion and €250 million respectively.
•    The Netherlands will press in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development for modernising the criteria for Official Development Aid (ODA).
•    Our development cooperation priorities will continue to be water management, food security, security and the rule of law, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The same crosscutting themes will also be retained: gender, the environment (including the international climate objectives agreed in Copenhagen) and good governance.
•    A contribution by the Netherlands to an international crisis management operation will require either a mandate under international law or the existence of a humanitarian emergency. Requests for a contribution will be assessed from the standpoint of our international responsibilities and national interests.
•    International missions in conflict countries should closely link security, development and diplomacy.
•    The Netherlands’ original plans for replacing the F-16 are no longer feasible without either modifying them or setting new priorities within the overall Ministry of Defence budget. The Minister of Finance will ask the Netherlands Court of Audit to draw up an audit report on developments in the financial aspects of procurement and operation of the replacement for the F-16 and on the provision of information on this subject in the recent past. In consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and on the basis of the available budget, the Minister of Defence will develop a vision of the armed forces of the future. The armed forces must continue to be capable of honouring our NATO obligations and of contributing to international crisis management operations. On the basis of the Court of Audit’s audit report, the Minister of Defence’s vision and other information, the government will take a decision at the end of 2013 on the replacement of the F-16. In the light of the Court of Audit’s earlier report on this subject, we will continue the development and test programmes as laid down in the MOUs.
•    The Dutch mission in Kunduz, Afghanistan will be completed and terminated on schedule in 2014.