NETHERLANDS - ACTORS AND DECISION-MAKING
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for Dutch development cooperation. It consists of four directorates-general (DGs) and is led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans (PvdA). He is assisted by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen (PvdA), who oversees the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS). Both have been in office since November 2012.
The DGIS is in charge of implementing overall Dutch development policy and its sectoral focus areas. It is supported by various regional and policy departments, most of which report to several directorates-general. The Departments for Social Development, for Economic Growth and Sustainable Development, and for Quality and Effectiveness report exclusively to the DGIS. The MFA is currently undergoing an organizational reform due to new political priorities and the necessity to reduce staff as part of the government’s austerity program. Since the change of government in 2010, development cooperation has been less of a priority within the MFA and the number of embassies active in this field hasdecreased with the reduction of partner countries.
About 1,000 staff within the MFA are currently working on development cooperation. Approximately 40% of them are based in The Hague and 60% in Dutch embassies in partner countries. This share is likely to be reduced with the decrease in partner countries. 21% of bilateral ODA was channeled through the embassies in 2009, which the 2011 OCED DAC peer review sees as a strength of Dutch development cooperation as it allows the Netherlands to respond directly to partner countries’ needs.
In 2012, the MFA held 78% of total Dutch ODA. Almost all remaining funds were allocated outside ministerial budgets, to the EU budget, waivers and costs for asylum seeker. The Netherlands has no implementing agency.
Within the House of Representatives (HoR, Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal), the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs deals with development cooperation. It scrutinizes the government’s development policy and budget allocation through oral and written consultations, can amend governmental bills and has the right to introduce motions. It also leads the discussion of the MFA’s budget, as well as proposing and voting on amendments. Since the last election in 2010, the importance of development cooperation within the committee has decreased, whereas foreign and European policy issues have become more relevant.
The Senate (Erste Kamer der Staten-Generaal) plays no role in development policy. Although all laws have to be passed by the Senate, it has no right to amend bills.
Dutch CSOs are actively engaged in development cooperation; they undertake advocacy targeting the MFA and the HoR, and implement development projects. The largest Dutch international development CSO platform is Partos, which represents 101 member organizations. The previous government reduced its formerly common consultations with civil society, for example, the new development strategy was developed to a lesser extent in consultation with civil society than previous strategies had been. In addition, the former government announced a funding cut for CSOs by 12.5% (a reduction of €50 million or US$69.5 million) and requested CSOs to seek other funding sources. The framework for engagement with CSOs (“MFS II”) developed by the previousgovernment remains valid until 2015. It requires CSOs to allocate at least 60% of government funding to one of the former 33 partner countries and within the thematic priorities listed in the document.
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