International cooperation essential to the Netherlands’ security and prosperity
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that our security and prosperity are directly dependant on global developments. A diplomatic network plays an essential role in promoting the Netherlands’ interests internationally. To continue serving these interests, we must keep working to strengthen Europe and create a stable world in which democracy, human rights, sustainable development and trade can flourish.
The threats the world faces today are diverse and unpredictable. Our security is at risk, not just from armed conflict but also cyberattacks, economic pressure and efforts to undermine major international agreements. In the words of foreign minister Stef Blok, ‘We can only ensure the Netherlands’ security by working with others in the international community. We do that by preventing conflicts, defending our country and above all by strengthening and improving the international legal order.’
The Netherlands’ security and prosperity is inextricably bound up with the degree of cooperation within the European Union. This is why the government continues to pursue the approach that has so richly benefited us and the EU: pragmatic cooperation on matters that affect Europe’s citizens. As Mr Blok says, ‘It is essential for Europe to stand up for itself. We must take greater responsibility for our own security and safety.’
There is a risk that the world’s achievements in the area of sustainable development could be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. International cooperation, with both civil society organisations and the private sector as partners, is needed to prevent that from happening. Ensuring that prosperity is sustainable and equitably distributed is an essential part of reducing poverty, preventing conflict and promoting stability. As foreign trade and development minister Sigrid Kaag has said, ‘Our goal is to emerge stronger from the crisis, and to take advantage of the opportunities before us by pursuing an equitable, inclusive and green recovery.’
Tailored measures for entrepreneurs
The Netherlands has provided a package of measures to support companies that do business internationally and is working hard to keep trade flowing. The government is ready to help businesses next year too. Focusing primarily on measures tailored to meet specific needs, the Netherlands will do what it takes. The government is also helping companies repair the damage they have suffered and make the most of new opportunities.
Prospects for young people in vulnerable countries
The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of continuing to invest in countries with vulnerable healthcare systems. The Netherlands is making these investments and paying special attention to mental health and psychosocial support in crisis situations. The pandemic has also had a major socioeconomic impact on young people around the world. ‘That’s why we are investing in education and employment to improve prospects for young people in vulnerable countries,’ says Ms Kaag.
To protect Dutch nationals abroad we need to provide effective and modern consular services. In 2021 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to build on the lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic. Improving crisis preparedness is part of that. There will be more emphasis on travel advisories and information campaigns to ensure that travellers are well informed but also aware of their personal responsibility while travelling.