The strategic direction is described on the basis of 3 main objectives and 12 lines of action. These apply from 2023-2029.
A secure Kingdom in a multipolar world
A resilient democratic legal order
Societal tensions are part and parcel of a free and open society. However, serious manifestations of tension and polarisation can, in extreme cases, affect social and political stability. These manifestations require a broad and coherent approach on socio economic aspects, maintaining and restoring trust in the democratic legal order, social stability, and addressing societal tensions and unwanted polarisation. At the same time, a major challenge for the government is to reduce tensions, both where government action itself contributes to these tensions as well as where these tensions arise due to other causes. Restoration of trust between government and citizens requires systematic self-reflection within the government and skills in conflict management. For this, it is essential to improve the quality of policy and legislation as well as the communication by the government, both locally and nationally. A visible and concrete manifestation of the democratic legal order, through open and approachable governance, says more than a thousand policy documents.
The impact of organised subversive crime is a serious threat to our society, especially to the social and political stability of the Kingdom. Criminals misuse vulnerable structures and individuals in society and do not shrink from perpetrating acts of extreme violence. Organised subversive crime is not an isolated phenomenon but is strongly linked to cyber and hybrid threats. Therefore, in the Netherlands, tackling organised subversive crime is one of the major spearheads of government policy. Efforts are also being made to formulate an approach to this with the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, given its location in an important maritime drug corridor towards North America and Europe. This approach focused on the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and Latin America must be continued and developed further. International cooperation and an international commitment are essential to reduce the threat of organised subversive crime in the Kingdom.
The approach to organised subversive crime takes into consideration not only the changes in the modus operandi of criminal groups but also, in a broader sense, the prevalent societal and geopolitical changes. The approach to subversive drug crime is shaped in cooperation with public and private partners through the following tasks: prevention (which includes addressing the recruitment of young people in organized drug crime and other forms of crime), an international offensive, tackling logistical hubs, dealing with criminal financial flows, regional reinforcements and strengthening the surveillance and protection system.
Unwanted foreign interference by state actors poses a serious threat to the Kingdom and its allies, which can lead to the disruption of our society. To effectively deal with unwanted foreign interference, we are committed to strengthening the intelligence and information position of the Kingdom’s intelligence and security services, intensifying the exchange of information, opposing espionage and disinformation, strengthening the approach towards increasing the resilience of vulnerable groups, entering into diplomatic dialogue with state actors that are committing unwanted foreign interference, and taking criminal action in the event of criminal offences.
Digital processes are the nerve centre of society and the economy and require continuous reinforcement for uninterrupted functioning. Despite earlier efforts to improve resilience, there is still an imbalance between, on the one hand, the increasing and rapidly developing threat and, on the other hand, the build-up of resilience. With the Dutch Cybersecurity Strategy (Nederlandse Cybersecuritystrategie), the Netherlands is working to ensure that there is as little imbalance as possible between the digital threat and digital resilience today and in future. Specifically for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, cybersecurity policies are lagging behind and need to be further developed. In this part of the Kingdom, cyber attacks pose a particular threat to critical infrastructure due to the lack of redundancy, with potentially large cascading effects.
Cyber incidents do not stop at country borders. That is why the government is actively utilising the opportunities for cooperation within and outside the EU. As part of the cooperation among EU Member States, cross-border digital threats are addressed and a coordinated response is made to large-scale cyber incidents and crises both within and outside the EU. In addition, the Kingdom engages closely with the EU and third countries in a multilateral context and is committed to protecting cybersecurity agreements, the responsible use of AI with legal safeguards to protect citizens from high-risk applications, and an open, free, secure and interoperable internet based on respect for human rights and democratic values.
Sustained commitment is needed to prevent and counter terrorism and extremism in the Kingdom and beyond. Jihadist and right-wing terrorist threats remain major concerns. Both these forms of terrorism and extremism are expected to pose threats for us in the coming years. At the same time, the entire extremist domain is in flux. Particularly notable is the rise of extremists who have turned against the government and other institutions out of a fundamental mistrust, anger and sense of injustice. The threat landscape is diffuse and variable. These developments are also influenced by events abroad.
A ready and resilient society
The implementation of a national climate policy, focused on climate mitigation and adaptation, is currently well underway. This calls for undiminished attention and there is a growing urgency to reduce the threat to national security. The Kingdom’s adaptive capacity against climate and natural disasters must be increased, among other things through climate-resilient spatial planning that will take into account extreme weather, flood risks, the spread of infectious diseases and wildfires. Ensuring more redundancy, in case of the failure of critical infrastructure, is also important. This approach requires proper coordination between ministries and intensive cooperation between private and public parties, next to close international and multilateral cooperation.
In addition, preventing climate change is, and will remain, a high priority. This is to be achieved through a secure energy transition to renewable and clean energy, the agricultural transition to reduced emissions, clean transportation (including in the maritime and aviation sectors) and the transition to a circular economy. As part of the EU, the Netherlands is working ambitiously to arrive at international agreements on this matter and is requesting other countries to do the same, because it is important to limit the adaptation task as far as possible. The Caribbean Countries are also implementing international standards and agreements on the climate to the maximum extent possible. Continued attention and increased commitment in this respect is necessary.
The territorial security of the Netherlands and the unimpeded functioning of the economy depend heavily on the integrity of critical infrastructure and the continuity of vital processes. This requires infrastructure that is more resistant to failure, disruption and manipulation, both intended or unintended. High-risk dependencies will also need to be greatly reduced. Critical infrastructure must continue functioning during incidents and crises. That is primarily the responsibility of businesses and organisations, with support from the government. This responsibility is being laid down in legislation for a growing number of sectors. The government actively works towards ensuring the resilience of sectors and services by gaining a better understanding of this aspect and by taking measures - together with critical providers – to increase this resilience when necessary.
To reduce high-risk strategic dependencies, the government is working to strengthen the EU’s open strategic autonomy (OSA) policy. More often than before, it will be necessary to consider whether dependence on specific raw materials, suppliers, services or specific countries creates an unacceptable level of risk. In this way, OSA helps reduce the high-risk dependencies with respect to critical providers.
The threat landscape demands robust critical infrastructure. Increasing redundancy and reducing the negative impact of the just-in-time economy is not only a task for the government but also for public and private partners, civil society organisations and citizens. If vital systems fail, you must have backup systems that share as few single points of failure as possible with production systems, such as the same software or hardware. In this way, the Kingdom will be both digitally and physically resilient to threats, and be able to mitigate these threats and recover resiliently from setbacks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to be better prepared for pandemics. Our vulnerabilities in the response to pandemics have been exposed. Such as the set-up of the initial outbreak response, the availability of specialised care (such as ICU care and artificial respiration equipment), the separate nursing care options (quarantine) that might be needed in the event of a new pandemic, as well as the security of supply and availability of personal protective equipment and vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed that a pandemic can also create tensions within society and that measures or vaccines can have a polarising effect. Foreign actors may instigate or add fuel to such discussions. Moreover, there is a link to hybrid threats, with the spread of disinformation as a possible tool.
Structural preparedness against infectious diseases and continued preventive efforts are important. Not just for another wave of COVID-19 but also, particularly, for another pandemic that may be completely different in nature. For this, cooperation in the international arena is indispensable for a properly integrated approach.
The Kingdom must be adequately prepared for current and future crises, which may be complex, unpredictable, largescale and protracted. This calls for the strengthening of crisis control capabilities (in accordance with the outline policy memorandum) in cooperation with all partners and increased preparedness of society. Society should be able to count on an adequate response to a crisis or impending crisis, but the resources and capabilities happen to be finite. Therefore, we increase the level of preparedness of public and private partners, civil society organisations and citizens, including through better risk communication.
Together with local and regional governments and critical and private partners, we are committed to preventing threats and mitigating risks, by preventing future crises at much as possible through robust and crisis-resistant policies and legislation. We also focus on strengthening and making our crisis control future-proof for when crises do occur.