What does the Netherlands want from the European Union (EU)?

The European Union (EU) increases the freedom, security and prosperity of the Netherlands. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the importance of European cooperation has only increased. What is the current state of the EU? And what does the Netherlands hope to achieve in the EU? This is the State of the Union 2023.

The EU and the war in Ukraine

Russia brought war back to Europe. This has had a major impact on Ukraine. But we are also feeling the effects of the war in the EU. These include the arrival of refugees and rising energy and food prices. We are better able to face these challenges together with other EU countries.

EU: countries with shared values and interests

The Netherlands shares important values with its fellow EU member states. These include democracy and equal rights for all. EU countries demonstrate these shared values in a variety of ways, including supporting Ukraine and taking in Ukrainian refugees. EU countries also have shared interests. By working together, EU countries are trying to bring down high gas prices. To make this happen, Europe needs to preserve its strong position in the world.

A stronger Europe in the world

We are stronger together. This was shown by the united European response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Netherlands wants the EU to maintain that resolve. We can only respond effectively to developments in the world if we join forces with other countries. To protect our security, for example.

There are countries that are trying to influence European unity. The EU needs to respond to this. By standing on its own two feet – economically, technologically, politically and in terms of defence. And by taking action if our freedom or rights are violated. This also means that the EU must be ready for the digital age. Not only to stay competitive internationally, but also to protect the public and organisations from cyber threats.

A green European economy that works for everyone

The EU represents the largest market in the world. This is good news for a trading country like the Netherlands: the European market creates a lot of jobs and ensures that the products in our shops meet the highest standards. Fair competition in the single market also keeps the prices of these products down. At the same time, the world is changing in a way that forces the EU to make certain changes too. The most pressing issues today include climate change, migration and increasing international tensions. With that in mind, the Netherlands supports the following EU goals:

  • building an economy that works for people. EU countries need to be competitive in terms of innovation and quality, not the cheapest possible labour. The Dutch government wants to help ensure that every resident of the EU can earn enough to get by.
  • becoming the first climate-neutral continent. The EU is committed to becoming a more sustainable society where energy remains affordable. How? This is described in the European Green Deal. Staying at the head of the pack in terms of clean technology also give certainty for companies in the future.
  • becoming less dependent on other countries. In areas like medicine, food, natural resources and energy, the EU has to do more for itself.

Fair rules, equal rights and an EU that keeps its promises

Our freedom and rights should not be taken for granted. This is another lesson of the war in Ukraine. EU countries have made agreements to protect each other’s freedom and rights. This is the only way to achieve solutions together and to ensure that the world is moving towards greater cooperation, not the law of the jungle. The EU only works if all its members follow the same rules and hold the same values. This is why the Netherlands wants to do the following:

  • fight corruption and fraud in all EU countries.
  • respect and defend human rights, to combat discrimination and ensure that everyone has equal opportunities in work and education.
  • increase the transparency of the EU by making European plans and goals clear, and by getting the public involved more frequently and more actively in the decision-making process.

The EU for Dutch people

EU cooperation brings us prosperity and security. The government wants to preserve what we in Europe have achieved – and also look to the future. To make the EU green, safer and stronger in the world. To that end, the government also listens to the people of the Netherlands. In 2021 it entered into a dialogue with members of the public through Kijk op Europa (site in Dutch), to give ordinary people a say in Europe’s future. In 2022 their input was combined into a final report (in Dutch) which was submitted to the Conference on the Future of Europe. In 2023 the Netherlands will continue this citizen dialogue on the EU.