An active foreign policy brings opportunities to the Netherlands

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget

Working together for the good of the Netherlands means looking beyond our national borders. What happens elsewhere in the world affects us too. The government is pursuing an active foreign policy to help the Dutch people derive maximum benefit from the opportunities of a globalised world. But it also shapes its policy to deal with the challenges of our age: poverty and inequality, climate change, energy scarcity, terrorism, human trafficking, and the food crisis. Our borders cannot protect us from these problems. They require a collective approach, primarily through international organisations. We can enjoy security and protection as long as all the players on the world stage, especially the most powerful, adhere to international agreements.

The government is also investing in alliances with countries that share our values and standards – our transatlantic allies, our NATO partners, and like-minded countries elsewhere – to defend our achievements and offer a response to shifting power relationships in the world. A strong European Union is essential for achieving this goal.

Commitment to a worldwide climate agreement
By their nature, climate and energy require an international approach. At the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen, the government will strive to ensure that ambitious new climate objectives are established. In the coalition agreement, the governing parties agreed to spend €500 million over four years (2008-2011) to promote renewable energy in developing countries. Reliable energy supplies are essential for economic growth and development. And we have to diversify our sources of energy not only to meet our climate objectives, but also to achieve the foreign policy objective of reducing our dependence on external energy supplies.

More money for human rights
We will continue our full-on efforts to promote human rights worldwide, focusing special attention on the rights of children, women and homosexuals. Our missions abroad are undertaking more and more on behalf of these groups, so we will therefore increase the size of the Human Rights Fund.

Working together to make Europe more effective
In 2009, it will be twenty years since the Berlin Wall fell. The demise of communism has changed Europe. It has made our continent stronger. The Netherlands needs to work closely with other countries. The Government is therefore promoting a decisive and democratic Europe: a Europe that can act purposefully and efficiently to find solutions to common concerns that require a concerted approach, such as climate and energy. We also need to work with our European partners to ensure our prosperity and security, joining forces against crime, illegal migration and terrorism. The Dutch gain a great deal from being part of Europe. The government is committed to ensuring that the EU has a clear, recognisable face in the Netherlands and around the world – a goal whose fulfilment will be accelerated by the Lisbon Treaty.

Security and stability in Afghanistan
In 2009, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan will still be the Netherlands’ most extensive and dangerous crisis management operation. In Uruzgan, we will continue, together with more than 40 other countries, to help the Afghans rebuild their country. Security and reconstruction go hand in hand. The Netherlands is investing in education, health care, agriculture, road construction and, above all, in the Afghans themselves.

Investing in development
It is in the Netherlands’ interest to work for peace, security, and development in the world. In 2009, the various government ministries will continue to work together to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This means investing in fragile states so that they remain peaceful and rise out of poverty. It means committing ourselves to women’s health and rights. And it means focusing more attention on economic growth and the distribution of wealth. Development cooperation is not a matter for the government alone. It is a matter for everyone, which is why the government is seeking new forms of cooperation.

Better service for Dutch citizens and businesses abroad
The government’s commitment abroad extends to Dutch citizens and businesses. From 2009, new passports and visas will include biometric information, which will contribute to the enforcement of public order and security. The consular service will benefit from a new computer-based information system that will enable the Ministry in The Hague and its missions to exchange information worldwide in real time.

International cultural policy: extra funds for design, fashion and architecture
The government is increasing its funding for design, fashion and architecture to €12 million for the period 2009-2012. The money will come from the budgets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. During the next few years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will help organise large-scale events abroad, such as the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of ties between the Netherlands and New York (in 2009) and the events in Germany’s Ruhrgebiet, the 2010 European capital of culture. The Ministry will also make €2 million extra available for culture and development cooperation.