Joint declaration – Government Consultations Netherlands - France, 12 April 2023

We, representatives of the Governments of the Netherlands and the French Republic, met on 12 April 2023 in Amsterdam at the second round of Dutch-French Government Consultations. We foster historic ties of friendship, based on shared values and the need for a strong and unified Europe. We aim to contribute to a resilient Europe with geopolitical clout through strengthening, broadening and deepening of our bilateral relationship. Only through mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation can we effectively promote the interests of our citizens, stand up for our core values, and respond to global challenges that our countries and the European Union as a whole are facing.

Partners In Geopolitics

The Netherlands and France will enhance their close bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation by renewing their bilateral Statement of Intent of May 2019, in line with national security and defense strategies, geopolitical developments, the NATO Strategic Concept and the EU Strategic Compass. We are committed to finalize our Defense Framework Agreement in 2024 to facilitate our enhanced cooperation.

Our countries intend to increase cooperation on defense material and defense industry, both bilaterally as well as through the European Defense Fund and the European Defense Agency. Furthermore, we strive for further convergence in export control policies in the EU.  In line with the European Council conclusions of March 2023, we will speed up the deliveries to Ukraine. We will work together at ramping-up the manufacturing capacities of the European defense industry, securing supply chains, facilitating efficient procurement procedures, addressing shortfalls in production capacities and promoting investments. We are working together on a possible future Dutch accession to the trilateral (France, Germany and Spain) treaty on export control in the military domain. The Netherlands and France are committed to using the EU's economic weight and strengthening its economic resilience by increasing its strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy. To this end, the EU should invest more in its own economic and foreign policy strength and reduce strategic dependencies.

We aim to safeguard European values and interests while upholding the principles of a rules-based international order. France and the Netherlands are founding members of NATO and trustworthy military contributors to NATO’s core tasks.

We unequivocally condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and remain resolute in our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes, bilaterally and through multilateral institutions, with an emphasis on the European Union, the United Nations, NATO, the ICC and the International Financial Institutions. Furthermore, we remain firm in our resolve to combat impunity for the ongoing grave and massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Russia. We will actively support initiatives aimed at holding the perpetrators accountable, such as the Dialogue Group on Accountability for Ukraine in which we both actively participate. A good example of our cooperation are the forensic missions in Ukraine, collecting evidence for alleged war crimes. We are committed to increasing pressure on Russia to stop the war, including through further restrictive measures targeting the Russian war machine and those who support it and providing massive military support and further efforts to prevent sanctions circumvention

The Netherlands and France strongly condemn the abduction of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation and to the temporarily occupied territories. We support international mechanisms reporting on and documenting the situation of the missing children. We welcome the invocation by France and the Netherlands and 43 other States of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism to examine reports of the Russian Federation’s forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children.

The Netherlands and France will contribute to further enhancing the Union's capacity to act by improving the effectiveness of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) and expanding their toolbox. Much can be achieved within the framework of the current treaties. The Netherlands and France also remain open to treaty change, provided it is in the interest of the EU and its individual member states.

The Netherlands and France underline the importance of the European Political Community, which should serve as a high-level vehicle to deepen the strategic dialogue between all its members and to boost European-wide operational cooperation. In this regard, the EPC should play a key role to promote a collective approach in all fields that are vital to our collective resilience, in particular energy, infrastructures, connectivity, cybersecurity, countering disinformation and migration. We aim for a successful summit on 1 June in Chisinau. 

The Netherlands and France stress the importance of pursuing the implementation of the EU’s strategy for co-operation in the Indo-Pacific and will continue their joint work in that regard, in liaison with their European partners. The Netherlands and France reaffirm the validity of the European policy towards China, as a partner for cooperation and negotiation, an economic competitor and a systemic rival. We will pursue our cooperation to implement it at the European level, notably with regard to the implementation of the Versailles agenda.

Recognising the geopolitical dimension of European international partnerships, the Netherlands and France will strengthen their cooperation in particular with our African partners, in line with the commitments taken collectively at the 6th EU-African Union Summit in Brussels on February 17-18, 2022. We will continue to counter actors with malign influence and disinformation. Recognizing that the first step to fighting disinformation is a positive narrative, we will continue to conduct joint Team Europe high-level political visits on the African continent to politically embody and showcase progress made on our commitments. We will coordinate our efforts to raise the ambition of the global community to tackle our common challenges for people and planet in view of the Summit for a new Global Financial Pact that will take place in Paris in June 2023.

A Future Proof Economy

In service of a resilient and competitive Union, the Netherlands and France will continue cooperation for an ambitious EU agenda for the green and digital transitions and for a high level of innovation. A Pact for innovation and sustainable growth, focusing on collaboration on strategic themes and key sectors of mutual interest, has been signed by the Netherlands and France as well as Netherlands’ VNO-NCW and France’s MEDEF, as annexed to this declaration. This pact will enable joint work in areas such as semiconductors, quantum technology, the decarbonization of our industry, the food transition and sustainable mobility. We will further develop quantum technology following up on the Trilateral Statement on Quantum Cooperation signed in 2022 by the Netherlands, France and Germany. Furthermore, we will organize the Erasmus Descartes Conference in 2023 on Quantum. Our countries also agree to organize a Netherlands-France/France-Pays-Bas economic year in 2025/2026.

Together with the preservation of an open economy, within the framework of a fully sustainable and fair-trade agenda, the Netherlands and France attach great importance to advancing the EU’s strategic autonomy in the most crucial sectors, as listed in the Versailles Declaration, and to defining an EU economic de-risking strategy, together with a new EU economic security strategy. To that end, and in order to achieve EU 2030 quantitative objectives when set, we commit to developing EU investment and production capacities that contribute to the green and digital transitions and reduce our dependencies, diversifying our supply chains, optimizing the use of resources (e.g. through circular economy). In particular, our countries share a long-term vision for a resilient and future-proof European economy at the forefront of climate transition and clean technologies. It is therefore key to strengthening the EU’s technological leadership and industrial competitiveness.

The Netherlands and France take note of the Commission’s recent needs assessment in the net-zero sectors, and support an effort to meet these needs, including through remobilizing, flexibilising and getting the most out of already approved funding: the proposed Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) coordination platform could play a positive role in this regard. The Netherlands and France will cooperate on the NZIA with a view to reach its objectives, including by increasing EU production capacities, reducing red tape for innovative clean tech projects, continuing strengthening the Single Market, providing the ability to green our public procurement processes and facilitating permitting for green energy projects. We will also cooperate on the Critical Raw Materials Act to improve critical raw materials’ monitoring, accelerate development of strategic mining, refining and recycling projects in the EU and diversify supply chains.

Our countries strive towards a renewed and effective economic governance framework, which strengthens debt sustainability, economic convergence, and growth-enhancing reforms and investments, based on country-specific trajectories, more ownership and accountability. France and The Netherlands look forward to working as soon as possible on the Commission’s legislative proposals, together with the other Member States, and with a view to concluding legislative work in 2023 on this important matter. France and The Netherlands call for the swift completion of the Banking Union and of the Capital Markets Union, in order to maximize the contribution of private funding to a more resilient and sovereign European economy.

The state aid rules constitute an important instrument in the policy toolbox to address market failures and to encourage the transition towards a net-zero emission and digital economy while strengthening strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy and safeguarding the level playing field on the Single Market. France and the Netherlands recognize the positive contribution of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for developing resilient value chains, both at the EU and national levels. To this end, they commit to continuing their efforts to improve and streamline the use of this instrument by companies and finalize the ongoing IPCEIs in which they are jointly involved, namely the projects on Hydrogen, Microelectronics / Connectivity, Cloud and Health, which are of crucial importance for the future of the European industrial strategy.

A sustainable and energy secure European Union

Following up on the first round of government consultations in 2022, the Netherlands and France have signed a joint declaration on the bilateral energy and climate dialogue to meet EU climate goals and increase Europe’s energy security and improve the competitiveness of the EU economy. The themes discussed in the climate and energy dialogue include civil nuclear energy and its key role in the decarbonization of our economies, hydrogen (including infrastructure), offshore wind, security of supply, the reform of the EU electricity market design (which we want to finalize before the end of 2023), the Fit-for-55 package, REPowerEU, the path to EU climate neutrality in 2050 and COP28. This common action will be consistent with the objectives set in the REPowerEU strategy and with the necessity to reinforce the EU’s energy security.

France and the Netherlands recall their commitment to the EU Green Deal and the EU’s climate, energy and environmental objectives. The two countries will advocate for ambitious targets, tailored to the local context to help ensure feasibility and social acceptance. They will work with EU partners to ensure that these objectives can be achieved effectively, avoiding conflicting policies that could hamper the green transition. 

The Netherlands and France will jointly examine how to cooperate more closely in the North Sea to conciliate all European ambitions, e.g. in the areas of energy transition, environment protection, nature restoration, food security, training, research and innovation and maritime transport.

We will also explore strengthened cooperation on rail transportation notably to increase the share of passenger rail transport and freight. We also support innovation in transport sector. In the field of digitalization in particular, we will share best practices on unified ticketing. In the field of sustainable aviation both countries seek cooperation in the shape of a European frontrunner group aiming at developing the most appropriate strategies and politics from an economic, environmental and social point of view. In particular, we also aim for the application of specific projects for ramping up production and use of sustainable aviation fuels.

A just, equitable and secure society

The Netherlands and France are actively committed to the promotion and protection of European values, human rights and fundamental freedoms. We will continue to call for the effective use of all legal, political and financial instruments to address the rule of law concerns within our Union. We are of the view that financial solidarity goes hand in hand with responsible use by Member States of EU funds, in compliance with the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU and fundamental rights. We will work to ensure that the rule of law remains high on the European political agenda, including a meaningful continuation and use of the Article 7 procedures when the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU are at stake.

The Netherlands and France are committed to the promotion of gender equality and of a feminist foreign policy. Concerned about the pushback against gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and equal rights of LGBTIQ+ persons, they are committed to firmly uphold international human rights law and humanitarian law. To counter these developments, they will jointly work towards ambitiously implementing the actions detailed in the IDAHOT declaration of 2021 initiated by France and co-signed by the Netherlands. Our countries will also join forces to promote women’s leadership and political participation, the “Women, peace and security” agenda and to respond to sexual and gender-based violence, violence against women and girls worldwide as well as exchange of best practices. This includes follow-up of the recent EU Council decision (initiated by France, The Netherlands and Germany) to include a sexual and gender-based violence thematic listing in the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

On asylum and migration, the Netherlands and France will cooperate on countering irregular migration movements, in accordance with the European Council conclusions of 9 February 2023, whilst offering asylum to those in need of protection, in line with our international commitments. Our countries will intensify cooperation on comprehensive partnerships with third countries to limit irregular migration and foster return. We will work to finalize the negotiations on the Asylum and Migration Pact in this legislative term of the European Parliament, with a mandatory asylum border procedure, measures to reduce irregular secondary migration and a solidarity mechanism as indispensable elements and are committed to the full implementation of the Dublin roadmap. The Netherlands and France will continue our work in the Calais-format. Our countries agreed to set up bilateral expert consultations on asylum policy and its implementation.

We are committed to an active and concerted engagement in the coalition of six countries against serious and organized crime. The Netherlands and France need a joint approach in fighting drug smuggling via logistical hubs, especially in the mainports. Criminal money flows are tackled with targeted plans on combatting money laundering and through improving the tracing, seizing and confiscation of criminal assets. We need to improve cooperation with countries where criminal assets are invested or brought into the legal circuit and to the strengthening of investigative partners, in order to trace assets more successfully. The European Commission should be involved in order to make full use of the instruments at the EU’s disposal. The appropriate access of judicial authorities and law-enforcement services to data, within respect for fundamental rights, and the fight against cybercrime are crucial components of our joint endeavour against organised crime.

The Netherlands and France will work towards a more effective EU approach against undesirable foreign funding. Wide-ranging cooperation on counterterrorism will be continued, with special attention for the importance of accountability for terrorist offences and addressing FTFs and emerging forms of threat, including the fight against violent extremist content online.

Towards a society of talent and knowledge

France and Netherlands welcome the initiation of new scientific partnerships of research institutions in areas of common strategic interests with the objective of facilitating the submission of joint projects to the European Research program. They will jointly invest in large scale research infrastructure, for instance in the field of exascale computing within the framework of EuroHPC. Furthermore, cooperation has been formally reinforced between scientific institutions of both countries, respectively between CWI (NED) and Inria (FRA), CEA (FRA) and TNO (NED), IFREMER (FRA) and Wageningen university (NED). They will contribute to intensify exchanges on key areas such as cryptography and quantum, decarbonized energy, marine resources.

France and The Netherlands are committed to creating a European Research Area (ERA) and a European Education Area (EEA) by cooperating within Horizon Europe, the European Universities Initiative and Erasmus+ and by working together in the Bologna Process.  To that end, and in line with the new ambitions for the “European Universities” we will encourage the deeper integration of the eight existing alliances associating French and Dutch universities. The TU Delft-France Initiative will support ambitious collaborative research projects between the TU Delft and leading French academic and research institutions to foster research collaboration in relevant domains.

In order to prevent the undesirable transfer of sensitive knowledge and technology and to protect our national and European security, the Netherlands and France will intensify cooperation and exchange information on knowledge security.

Cooperation in the Caribbean region

The French Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands share a border on the island of Sint Maarten/ Saint-Martin. 375 years since the Treaty of Concordia, our countries aim to sign shortly a new treaty for the exact location of the border on the island. Furthermore, our countries commit to strengthening bilateral and regional collaboration to address pressing security challenges in the Caribbean region. The ratification of the SOFA on Caribbean Cooperation will be completed in 2023. Furthermore, the quadrilateral meeting between France, the Netherlands, the autonomous government of Sint Maarten and the local council of Saint-Martin on June 15th in The Hague, will allow stakeholders to deal with the common issues of cross-border cooperation on the island.