Policy Updates

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Dutch parliamentarian Wybren van Haga joins right-wing party Forum for Democracy

On May 22, 2020, independent Dutch parliamentarian Wybren van Haga announced that he would become a member of the right-wing Forum for Democracy (FvD) political party. Van Haga had been a representative of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in the past, but he was expelled from the VVD in 2019 and kept his seat in the parliament as an independent. Van Haga’s change of direction has no direct immediate consequences for the current cabinet, given that FvD only has two seats in parliament. 

News article - NRC (in Dutch) 

Proposal to add US$1.1 billion in international COVID-19 response funds to to ODA budget prompts heated discussion in Dutch Parliament

On May 11, 2020, the Advisory Council for International Issues (AIV)  published its advice to the Dutch cabinet on the international response needed for COVID-19. On May 18, AIV discussed this advice more thoroughly with representatives of the Dutch Parliament, including the specifics on how the recommendation of the €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) had been calculated and how it should be disbursed. 

This recommendation gave rise to strong disagreements within the Dutch Parliament. While some political parties, such as the Democrats 66 (D66) and the Christian Union (CU), have strongly advocated for an increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in light of the current crisis, the right-wing People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is strongly opposed to such an increase. The VVD is adamant that the coalition agreement arranged for ODA to be linked to Gross National Income (GNI) and is, thus, independent of the size of the Dutch Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

If the report gains support across the political spectrum and is approved by the Minister of Finance, the €1 billion will be added to the total Dutch ODA budget. 

News article - Telegraaf (in Dutch)

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Development Minister highlights role of Gavi and WHO in global COVID-19 efforts

On May 11, 2020, the Dutch government published the full list of factual questions that the general committee for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation submitted to Minister Kaag, as well as her responses to those questions, many of which were linked to the role of the Netherlands in combatting COVID-19 globally.

To a question about vaccine development, Minister Kaag responded that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will play a central role in providing universal access to a future COVID-19 vaccine, and that the Netherlands supports the leading role of the WHO in coordinating the research and development of a vaccine.

Other questions touched on the Dutch commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of COVID-19, the support that the Netherlands provides to the most vulnerable groups, and Official Development Assistance (ODA) allocations for COVID-19. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Report from Advisory Council for International Issues to Dutch government recommends additional US$1.1 billion ODA investment for international COVID-19 response

On May 11, 2020, the Advisory Council for International Issues (AIV) published its advice to the Dutch cabinet regarding an international COVID-19 response from the Netherlands, as requested by Minister Kaag in April. 

While the AIV recognizes the long-term socio-economic and financial consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in low-income countries, the Council firstly suggests focusing on the immediate support needed before moving on to developing a long-term vision. As such, the AIV recommends the Netherlands to allocate a sum of €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to the immediate response to the poorest countries.

Besides reserving some of that amount for vaccine development, the report also highlights the importance of investing in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, as well as increasing support for multilateral organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), or making a substantial amount available for the Catastrophe Containment and the Relief Trust of the International Monitary Fund (IMF). 

Press Release - Advisory Council for International Issues (in Dutch)

Dutch development minister and special COVID-19 envoy discuss Netherlands' international pandemic response in expert webinar

On May 7, 2020, the Dutch Institute for International Relations Clingendael and the Dutch NGO 'Cordaid' organized a webinar with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, and the Dutch Special COVID-19 Envoy, Feike Sjibesma, to discuss the Netherlands' perspective on COVID-19 as a global health challenge.

The global impact of COVID-19 begs the question of whether the Netherlands should consider investing in health systems from a more global perspective in the future, said Kaag. Sjibesma noted that the production and the distribution of a vaccine will be a highly complex process, and called for a robust international cooperation effort to ensure equitable access to treatment. 

Event website - Institute Clingendael (in Dutch)

Full webinar recording - YouTube (in Dutch)

Dutch Ambassador for Women's Rights and Gender Equality discusses vaccine accessibility with ONE's youth ambassadors

On May 5, 2020, a group of youth ambassadors of the global organization 'ONE', an organization that campaigns for the eradication of extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030, had an online meeting with Dutch Ambassador for Women's Rights and Gender Equality, Mette Gonggrijp.

The representatives of ONE advocated for the Netherlands to do more to ensure global access to a vaccine against COVID-19, preferably within a multilateral framework in cooperation with other countries. Gonggrijp stated that the Netherlands recognizes the importance of having a vaccine that is accessible to everyone and is working towards achieving this goal.

News article - Hetstreekblad (in Dutch)

Netherlands pledges US$200+ million at Coronavirus Global Response conference, but pledge consists of already-allocated funds

At the May 4, 2020, Coronavirus Global Response conference, the Netherlands pledged a sum of €192 million (US$209 million), of which €50 million (US$54 million) are allocated to vaccine development and €42 million (US45$million) to research on COVID-19. The remaining €100 million (US$108 million) seems to refer to the amount already pledged by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag. 

The funding announced is not made up of newly allocated funds, but includes all expenditures dedicated to combatting COVID-19 that have been made since January, 30, 2020.

News article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch 2020 Spring Budget projects grim GDP outlooks; updated budget to come mid-June will address COVID-related 'uncertainties'

Wopke Hoekstra, the Minister of Finance of the Netherlands, presented the Dutch 'Spring Budget' for 2020, an update from the 2020 budget presented in September last year. Usually, the Spring Budget is based on a detailed evaluation from the Central Planning Bureau (CPB). This evaluation will specifically review the effects of COVID-19 on the Dutch economy and will only be made public on June 16, 2020. Minister Hoekstra, therefore, emphasized that the budget's estimates this year are very rough.

Due to these uncertainties, the cabinet provided four scenarios (based on a CPB analysis on March 26, 2020) for the economic development of the Netherlands in 2020-2021. In the worst-case scenario, the GDP growth for 2020 is projected at nearly -12%. The most optimistic scenario predicts a GDP growth of -1.2%. 

Homogeneous Group International Cooperation (HGIS), a budgetary construction within the larger government budget which includes all expenditures related to foreign policy, is funded at €30 million (US$33 million). Funding for Official Development Assistance (ODA) within this framework has been adjusted based on the expected economic growth.

Press Release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article - Dutch News 

Report to Dutch government from Advisory on International Affairs will provide guidance on scale and structure of effective pandemic measures

The Dutch government has requested urgent advice from the Advisory on International Affairs (AIV) regarding the way in which the Netherlands can contribute effectively and on an adequate level to the global fight against the impact of COVID-19. In this document, due May 20, 2020, the cabinet seeks advice regarding the following three questions:

  • How can the international community mitigate the impact of the crisis in vulnerable countries in the short- and middle-long-term?

  • Considering the scale and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, what package of measures would be adequate in light of the large-scale measures that are being taken internationally and nationally?

  • What role should the Netherlands and the EU play in confronting this crisis as well as in facilitating socio-economic recovery in developing countries? Which financial and technical contributions are adequate for the scale and the impact of the crisis on vulnerable countries and groups, especially in the African continent?

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands announces details, recipients of US$114 million pledged to international pandemic response

Sigrid Kaag, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, provided details to Parliament on the allocations of the €100 million (US$114 million) recently pledged to the international COVID-19 response. The total amount is divided as follows:

  • €15 million (US$16 million) to UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19;
  • €35 million (US$38 million) to provide support for humanitarian assistance in the most vulnerable countries to be channeled through international organizations. This includes:
  • €10 million (US$11 million) to the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA);
  • €15 million (US$16 million) to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF);
  • €5 million (US$5 million) channeled through the Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPF) for international humanitarian organizations and NGOs; and 
  • €5 million (US$5 million) to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • €50 million (US$54 million) to maintain and improve the macro-economic stability of the poorest countries to mitigate the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 crisis, further divided into:
  • €10 million (US$11 million) to the World Bank for health system strengthening in low-income countries;
  • €15 million (US$16 million) to the International Monetary Fund's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), with an additional €10 million (US$10,83 million) to be made available upon request; and
  • €15 million (US$16 million) to the UN's Response and Recovery Trust Fund (RRTF).

Presse release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands quintuples previous week's US$11 million pledge to CEPI, will contribute US$54 million to vaccine initiative

The Dutch government informed Parliament on April 17, 2020 of its decision to allocate €50 million (US$54 million) to the Coalition for Emergency Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in 2020, for COVID-19 vaccine development. This update represents a fivefold increase from the announcement on April 7, 2020 of €10 million (US$11 million) in support to CEPI.

De Jonge also noted additional Dutch indirect contributions to vaccine development via the European Commission (EC), through the Horizon 2020 program, to which the Netherlands contributed €48 million (US$52 million), and an €80 million (US$86 million) loan to CureVac, a biopharmaceutical company.

In the letter to Parliament, Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge also noted his commitment to CEPI during the next research phase starting in 2021, however, the precise funding amount was not made available.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands quintuples previous week's US$11 million pledge to CEPI, will contribute US$54 million to vaccine initiative

The Dutch government informed Parliament on April 17, 2020 of its decision to allocate €50 million (US$54 million) to the Coalition for Emergency Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in 2020, for COVID-19 vaccine development. This update represents a fivefold increase from the announcement on April 7, 2020 of €10 million (US$11 million) in support to CEPI.

De Jonge also noted additional Dutch indirect contributions to vaccine development via the European Commission (EC), through the Horizon 2020 program, to which the Netherlands contributed €48 million (US$52 million), and an €80 million (US$86 million) loan to CureVac, a biopharmaceutical company.

In the letter to Parliament, Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge also noted his commitment to CEPI during the next research phase starting in 2021, however, the precise funding amount was not made available.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch experts and religious leaders call for action to support low-income countries through pandemic; Parliament commissions report on possible global response tactics

A coalition of Dutch experts, CEOs and academics have called on their country's parliament to allocate 1% of the total €90 billion (US$97.5 billion) COVID-19 budget for an emergency plan for lower- and middle-income countries. A coalition of religious leaders in the Netherlands also published a declaration supporting the request for 1%.

During the April 16, 2020 debate in parliament on the international COVID-19 response and the 1% initiative, Prime Minister Rutte agreed to commission a report from the Advisory Council on International Affairs on how the Netherlands can combat COVID-19 on a global level. Specifically, the report will serve as a basis to price out and develop a support plan, and to determine the fair-share of the Netherlands.

Plenary Report - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

24 foreign affairs ministers launch joint call for multilateral action on COVID-19

In a joint declaration, 24 ministers of Foreign Affairs from 24 countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, and Norway launched a 'wake-up call for multilateralism' to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signatories of this declaration are members of the Alliance for Multilateralism, an initiative founded by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. This 'supra-regional network of like-minded states' aims to promote and support the values of the UN and to strengthen international cooperation. Member Ministers emphasized the need for further international cooperation instead of national retrenchment, considering the global dimension of the threat and urging governments to adopt a "co-operative, transparent, science-based and coordinated global response" to the pandemic.

Signatories committed to providing resources in support of the WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UNITAID; and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in order to assist the most impacted countries. They have called for other governments, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to do the same.

Press release - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

24 foreign affairs ministers launch joint call for multilateral action on COVID-19

In a joint declaration, 24 ministers of Foreign Affairs from 24 countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, and Norway launched a 'wake-up call for multilateralism' to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signatories of this declaration are members of the Alliance for Multilateralism, an initiative founded by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. This 'supra-regional network of like-minded states' aims to promote and support the values of the UN and to strengthen international cooperation. Member Ministers emphasized the need for further international cooperation instead of national retrenchment, considering the global dimension of the threat and urging governments to adopt a "co-operative, transparent, science-based and coordinated global response" to the pandemic.

Signatories committed to providing resources in support of the WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; UNITAID; and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in order to assist the most impacted countries. They have called for other governments, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to do the same.

Press release - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dutch experts and religious leaders call for action to support low-income countries through pandemic; Parliament commissions report on possible global response tactics

A coalition of Dutch experts, CEOs and academics have called on their country's parliament to allocate 1% of the total €90 billion (US$97.5 billion) COVID-19 budget for an emergency plan for lower- and middle-income countries. A coalition of religious leaders in the Netherlands also published a declaration supporting the request for 1%.

During the April 16, 2020 debate in parliament on the international COVID-19 response and the 1% initiative, Prime Minister Rutte agreed to commission a report from the Advisory Council on International Affairs on how the Netherlands can combat COVID-19 on a global level. Specifically, the report will serve as a basis to price out and develop a support plan, and to determine the fair-share of the Netherlands.

Plenary Report - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

European and African leaders call for international support for Africa’s pandemic response

European and African world leaders co-signed an op-ed in the Financial Times arguing for a debt moratorium and health and economic assistance to support African countries’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. Leaders called for governments, multilateral institutions, businesses, foundations, and NGOs to join forces to boost Africa’s emergency health response and to provide economic stimulus and humanitarian assistance through existing institutions like the Global Fund, Gavi, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. 
 
The opinion piece, titled 'Only Victory in Africa can end the pandemic everywhere', was signed by 18 world leaders. EU signatories included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, President of France Emmanuel Macron,  and the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. 
 
Opinion article - Financial Times

 

Gavi board Chair calls for funding to WHO and Gavi, coordinated vaccine development

Dr. Ngozi Okonja-Iweala, chairwoman of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, former managing director of the World Bank, and former Minister of Finance and of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, spoke to the Dutch media outlets Financieele Dagblad and Vrij Nederland about the COVID-19 crisis.

Okonja-Iweala believes that a viable vaccine is still 12-18 months away and endorsed the idea of a 'COVID-19 pool', a global collaboration for the vaccine with its intellectual property managed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure its affordability and availability for all. Dr. Ngozi argued that without increases in funding for and prioritization of multi-national, cooperative efforts, rather than fragmented domestic vaccine development, health care and vaccination coverage in poor countries will end up neglected, and COVID-19 will "come back to us like a boomerang."

News article - Financieele Dagblad (in Dutch)

News article - Vrij Nederland (in Dutch)

European and African leaders call for international support for Africa’s pandemic response

European and African world leaders co-signed an op-ed in the Financial Times arguing for a debt moratorium and health and economic assistance to support African countries’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. Leaders called for governments, multilateral institutions, businesses, foundations, and NGOs to join forces to boost Africa’s emergency health response and to provide economic stimulus and humanitarian assistance through existing institutions like the Global Fund, Gavi, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. 
 
The opinion piece, titled 'Only Victory in Africa can end the pandemic everywhere', was signed by 18 world leaders. EU signatories included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, President of France Emmanuel Macron,  and the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. 
 
Opinion article - Financial Times

Dutch government publishes Q&A on future funding for CSOs

The Dutch government has published an extensive Q&A related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the current and future state of Dutch funding for CSOs and governmental international posts. 

Questions answered in the publication include the following: 

  • How can Dutch organizations provide emergency assistance in combating the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in sensitive areas abroad? 
  • Will additional money become available for development cooperation to combat the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis? 
  • Can subsidy recipients of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shift existing subsidies, for activities aimed at combating COVID-19?
  • Can reporting and other obligations be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?
  •  Is the planning of current subsidy tenders compromised by the Corona crisis?
  • What can the Ministry, including the embassies, do in countries where the space for civil society is compromised by the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Can the Netherlands also call on other donors for coordination and flexibility, for example in the EU context?

While additional funding to combat COVID-19 remains to be found within current budgets, and while there will be a reduction in the number of ministerial international posts, flexibility exists within the current partnerships, and the Ministry remains alert to violations of fundamental rights. 

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Application for adjusting existing grants to Corona pandemic related activities - Government of the Netherlands