Budget Day 2023: a changing world order requires unity

Every year, on Budget Day, King Willem-Alexander delivers the Speech from the Throne, which lays out the government’s plans for the coming year. What are its key plans with regard to international policy and foreign trade and development cooperation?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs works day and night to make our Kingdom safer and more prosperous, to create a just and sustainable world, and to support Dutch nationals abroad.

Support for Ukraine

The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine will dominate the agenda again in the year ahead. Alongside its partners and allies, the Dutch government is taking a resolute stand on freedom, independence and sovereignty for Ukraine. Ukraine must remain able to defend itself in the face of Russia’s military invasion. Over the next year it can once again count on the Netherlands for humanitarian and military aid, economic support and help with reconstruction.

A changing world order

The war in Ukraine has shown that we cannot take security for granted. International developments have direct repercussions for the Netherlands’ security and prosperity. The scale and complexity of the global threats we face make international cooperation essential. For instance in countering terrorism and cyberattacks.

Fostering security and stability in the regions surrounding Europe, particular along its eastern border, in the Middle East and in the Sahel, is in the security interests of both the Netherlands and Europe as a whole. Therefore, the government intends to contribute proportionately to civilian and military missions and operations, with an emphasis on the unstable regions on Europe’s periphery. Supplying arms to Ukraine is another way to promote security in the European region. With regard to civilian and military participation in military missions and operations, the government aims to align such activities with Dutch and international diplomatic activities and development efforts.

China’s assertive stance in the global arena presents another set of geopolitical challenges. Countries are taking an increasingly competitive stance on issues ranging from security, technology and energy to food and health.

As the focus of demographic and economic trends shifts towards the east and global south, we need to invest more in our relations with countries in other parts of the world. This includes Africa and Latin America, but also the Indo-Pacific, which is the world’s biggest growth region and home to one-third of its population.

International trade

International trade is our lifeblood. For this reason the focus of government policy in 2024 will again be on making the most of opportunities to help our businesses succeed. The government intends to make its trade activities more robust and sustainable. To this end, it will support businesses by deploying economic diplomacy and various trade instruments.

Development cooperation

There is an ongoing need for development cooperation. In 2024 we will continue to face international crises such as climate change and war, and therefore the Netherlands will continue addressing the underlying causes of poverty, climate change, terrorism and irregular migration, as well as working to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


More asylum seekers are expected to enter the country than previously anticipated. Some of the funds needed to address this situation will be drawn from the development cooperation budget. As a result, that budget will shrink in the coming year from just over €4 billion to just over €3.6 billion. Existing projects will continue as far as possible, and the terms of the coalition agreement will continue to guide our priorities, but there will be less money available for new policy.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been allocated a budget of over €13 billion for next year. Most of this – around €11.2 billion – will go towards our contributions to the EU. The war in Ukraine makes European unity more important than ever, and so these contributions remain essential. The budget for foreign trade and development cooperation amounts to €3.6 billion.