Foreign Affairs Budget – the world begins at home

The first task the government assigned itself was to design an active international and European role for the Netherlands (pillar 1 of the policy agenda). The Netherlands cannot tackle the challenges that our society faces – terrorism, environmental pollution, cross-border crime – alone.

Four important areas can be identified:

1. A firmer basis for a decisive, democratic Europe

The government wants a Europe with fewer rules, more openness and a modern budget. The reform treaty will make the EU more effective, more democratic and better equipped to move forward, enabling it to maintain our prosperity and to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by globalisation. The government advocates an EU that focuses on areas where cooperation adds value, without venturing into areas that member states can deal with better themselves. Dutch identity is not being eroded. The wishes and concerns of the Dutch people are clear and have been incorporated into the treaty as best as possible. The government will continue to work to increase support for the EU. People must be able to identify with EU policy. The government will seek to promote greater knowledge of European cooperation and broaden the debate on this subject with citizens and civil society.

2. Joining forces for peace, security and development

Government policy envisages an effective and effficient Dutch contribution to the resolution of conflicts, focusing primarily on Afghanistan, Sudan, the Great Lakes region of central Africa, and the Middle East.

The 3D approach – diplomacy, defence and development – is a defining feature of our integrated foreign policy, which is supported by the three pillars of security, development and diplomacy. By promoting peace and stability in other parts of the world – usually fragile states that are not integrated into the global community and which offer an ideal breeding ground for new threats such as terrorism – the government is offering people alternative prospects and helping combat radicalisation. In due course this will reduce the likelihood of terrorist attacks, which is in the interest of both the Netherlands and Europe.

3. Development cooperation that helps people

The government’s main development priority is the Millennium Development Goals.

If they are to be achieved by 2015, lost ground must be made up quickly. This year, the government is committing an extra €50 million to this end. In the autumn of 2007, the government will set out its development policy for the next few years in a policy letter to parliament. The government has identified four important areas which demand a response: fragile states, economic growth and distribution of wealth, women’s rights, and the environment, climate and energy.

The government wishes to make development cooperation more political. This means that dialogue with developing countries and other donors should in future centre on issues like democratisation, human rights, the fight against corruption, exclusion and reducing bureacracy.

4. Human rights – fundamentally important

In the autumn the government will send parliament a memorandum on human rights, setting out policy for the years ahead. Human rights apply to everyone, everywhere, in all circumstances. As a permanent theme of foreign policy, the government will consistently draw attention to human rights violations. Priorities include combating the death penalty and torture and promoting freedom of expression and religion. The government will pay special attention to the protection of human rights activists.