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After failed attempts at majority government formation, Netherlands looks to minority coalition

Johan Remkes of the Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has been appointed as the new informateur in ongoing talks to form a coalition in the Netherlands; his primary task will be examining possibilities for forming a minority government, as multiple attempts to form a majority government have failed.

Tensions between the two biggest parties, VVD and Democrats 66 (D66), arose after D66 leader, Sigrid Kaag, criticized VVD leader, Mark Rutte, for his refusal to cooperate with left-wing parties Green Left (GL) and the Labour Party (PvdA) and his style of leadership.

Kaag maintained her preference for a five-way majority government between VVD, D66, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), GL, and PvdA, which was rejected by VVD and CDA. After the appointment of Remkes, GL and PvdA released a statement, saying they do not support a minority government. 

News Article - DutchNews

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

Dutch Medical Care Minister resigns; position temporarily filled by Minister of Health

The Dutch Minister of Medical Care and Sports, Tamara van Ark (VVD), has announced that she is stepping down on health grounds.

Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, and Secretary of State for Health, Paul Blokhuis, will take over her duties until the position is filled.

Van Ark, who was the running mate of prime minister Mark Rutte in the VVD, is the ninth minister to have resigned from the third Rutte cabinet.

News article - dutchnews.nl

News article - nu.nl (in Dutch)

Dutch cabinet formation remains uncertain despite leaked coalition documents

On September 2, 2021, Dutch government coalition negotiator, Mariëtte Hamer, released a secret document outlining a coalition agreement between the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Democrats 66 (D66).

The two parties defined priorities for a potential coalition, which included free childcare and proactive governance on issues like healthcare, criminalization of espionage, and the climate crisis.

The document calls for increased support for the worldwide vaccination program COVAX and a relaunch of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The impact of this document is unclear because the VVD has eliminated the possibility of forming a coalition with left-wing parties like GroenLinks or the Labour Party (PvdA). Previous talks with Christian Democrat Christen Unie failed to result in a coalition agreement, making a minority government a more feasible option.

News article -  AD (in Dutch)

News article - nu.nl (in Dutch)

Netherlands provides US$12 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Tom de Bruijn, announced that the government of the Netherlands will make €10 million (US$12 million) available for shelter, food, clean drinking water, and medical assistance for the Afghan population.

The funding will go to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), one of the country-based pooled funds (CBPFs) of the United Nations intended to support humanitarian projects.

News article – NL Times

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Remaining Dutch COVID-19 vaccines cannot be donated due to quality concerns after repackaging, says government

On August 3, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, stated that the Dutch government is unable to donate the remaining AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines because the quality of vaccines cannot be guaranteed.

In a letter answering parliamentary questions posed by member of parliament (MP) Lisa Westerveld of the Green-Left party, De Jonge explained that, due to European pharmaceutical laws and regulations, COVID-19 vaccines which are no longer in their original packaging cannot be donated.

The Dutch government continues to primarily donate COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative. In certain cases, the Netherlands also donates vaccines from its central stock bilaterally.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Health Minister to engage with European Commission on temporary suspension of COVID-19 vaccine patents

On July 26, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, responded to parliamentary questions about COVID-19 vaccine patents posed by members of parliament Maarten Hijink and Jasper van Dijk from the Socialist Party.

The Netherlands will urge the European Commission to engage constructively within the World Trade Organization for a temporary suspension of patents on COVID-19 vaccines, in line with a motion accepted by the Dutch parliament to suspend COVID-19 patents, said De Jonge. He also wrote that it is not possible to force the developers of COVID-19 vaccines to share their knowledge, however, stating that incentives for investments in research for new COVID mutations or future pandemics must be protected.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands donates 745,000 COVID-19 vaccines bilaterally, expects to donate 20 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX by end of 2021

The Netherlands announced that it will donate its stock of 745,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to countries in need that have appealed to the Dutch government. Part of this stock will be made available to Tanzania and Namibia.

The donations of AstraZeneca doses are given bilaterally to countries that have applied to the Dutch government for these vaccines, but other doses ordered by the Netherlands that are no longer needed are sent to COVAX, the global vaccine initiative for fair distribution worldwide.

The Dutch government expects to donate 20 million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX by the end of 2021. The Netherlands previously donated half a million COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX through Sweden.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article – NU.nl (in Dutch)

Netherlands publishes evaluation of Dutch climate finance 2016-2019

The Netherlands published a report by the Dutch Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) about financial assistance to low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) for measures against climate change between 2016 and 2019.

The IOB finds that Dutch climate finance has steadily increased between 2010 and 2019 and is on track to meet the targets of the Dutch government for 2020. They also found that a significant part of climate finance through official development assistance (ODA) is spent on climate adaptation, rather than climate change mitigation.

The report concludes with three strategies for the Dutch government that the IOB says should be considered simultaneously:

  1. Deciding on dedicated climate finance;
  2. Mainstreaming climate considerations in all development assistance; and
  3. Aligning all policies with the Paris Agreement.

The cabinet will not yet act upon to the recommendations made in the IOB report due to the current cabinet's caretaker status, and because further studies need to be carried out, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands

Netherlands announces new development partnerships for 2021

On July 14, 2021, the Dutch government published a list of its current strategic partnerships for development as of January 1, 2021, as part of the government’s policy framework, 'Strengthening Civil Society'.

The Dutch government selected 42 partnerships that are funded through the four funds of the policy framework: 'Power of Voices', 'Power of Women', 'Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Partnership Fund', and 'Women, Peace and Security'. The total budget made available for the four funds amounts to €1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion) between 2021 and 2025.

A list of organizations selected for support through the policy framework can be found here (in Dutch).

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch cabinet appoints new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

On July 14, 2021, Tom de Bruijn was appointed as the new Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the outgoing cabinet starting August 10, 2021.

The announcement was made jointly with the appointment of the new Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, and the new State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management. De Bruijn will take over the former role of his party leader, Sigrid Kaag of the Democrats 66 (D66) party, who will focus on her role in the cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article – Volkskrant (in Dutch)

Dutch Development Minister, Sigrid Kaag, steps down

On July 9, 2021, the Dutch Government Information Service (RVD) announced that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, is stepping down.

Kaag recently took on a new role in the outgoing cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs, following a shuffling of positions in the cabinet. The RVD stated that Kaag decided to step down because the two roles are difficult to hold simultaneously. As the party leader of the Democrats 66 (D66), she also plays a paramount role in the formation process of the new cabinet.

Kaag's political party, D66, has been tasked with selecting a new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

News article – NU.nl (in Dutch)

News article – NLTimes

Generation Equality Forum concludes with major financial and political commitments for gender equality

The Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, kicked off in Mexico City on March 29-31, 2021, and culminated in Paris on June 30-July 2. The Forum brought together high-level stakeholders including heads of government, corporations, and NGOs to accelerate major financial and political commitments to achieving gender equality by 2026. 

Country donors announced the following commitments:

  • Canada committed CA$180 million (US$146 million) to address the root causes of gender inequality around the world, including unpaid and paid care work in low- and middle-income countries. Canada also announced that it will commit CA$100 million (US$81 million) in new funding for stand-alone international assistance directed to inequality in unpaid and paid care work;
  • The EU committed at least €4.0 billion (US$4.9 billion) in the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget to be specifically dedicated to women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment. The EU also pledged to propose new legislation by the end of 2021 to combat violence against women and hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people, as well as adding all forms of hate crimes to the list of crimes in the EU treaties;
  • France committed an additional €100 million (US$122 million) in this sector for the next five years. It also announced that €250 million (US$304 million) will be mobilized by the French Development Agency (AFD) through the bilateral channel for sexual reproductive and health rights (SRHR);
  • Germany increased its commitment to women's economic empowerment initiatives by €140 million (US$166 million), bringing Germany's total commitment to the GEF to US$285 million (€240 million). US$30 million (€25 million) of that will go to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative;
  • The Netherlands pledged US$620 million to feminist organizations and movements, including supporting the Action Coalition on economic justice, the Action Coalition on bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the Action Coalition on climate justice;
  • Sweden pledged to support the implementation of the Common Agenda for Comprehensive Abortion Care and increase resources and support for existing funding mechanisms through the Action Coalition on feminist movements and leadership;
  • The UK recommitted to providing £68 million (US$91 million) to support its seven-year-long Violence Against Women and Girls Prevention program; and
  • The US pledged US$175 million to support programs against gender-based violence and to mobilize US$12.0 billion through 2025 in investments by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in businesses that advance gender equity in emerging markets through the 2X Women's Initiative.

Newsletter - Donor Tracker

News article - Forbes

News article - UN News

At Generation Equality Forum, Netherlands pledges US$620 million to feminist organizations and movements

At the Paris-held Generation Equality Forum, the UN Women-convened summit to accelerate gender equality investment, the Netherlands pledged US$620 million to feminist organizations and gender equality movements.

The Netherlands was a leader of the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, but also made commitments to support other Action Coalitions such as:

  • Supporting for the Action Coalition on Economic Justice by improving access to finance for women-owned businesses in Africa in cooperation with the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and other development financial institutions;
  • Realizing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), quality care and services, information, and education for the Action Coalition on Bodily Autonomy and SRHR; and
  • Contributing to sustainable forest management, strengthening livelihoods in forested landscapes, and reducing CO2 emissions by halting deforestation while ensuring women are at least 50% of the recipients of these projects for the Action Coalition on Climate Justice.

The Netherlands also signed the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA Compact), a movement for action on women and security, and gender equality in humanitarian action.

Twitter – NL Women’s Rights

Netherlands starts donations of COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX, Cape Verde, Indonesia

The Dutch government announced that, from the week of July 6, 2021, and onwards, it will start supplying COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX (the global vaccine initiative) and send vaccines to Cape Verde, with donations to Indonesia following later.

Following a large shipment of over one million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the Netherlands, the Dutch government will send the first supply of 500,000 vaccines from the Netherlands to COVAX. This announcement followed the adoption by parliament of a motion to set up a concrete proposal for phased donation policy to COVAX.

The Dutch government is also committed to donating COVID-19 vaccines bilaterally to Cape Verde and Indonesia. In the week of July 6, 2021, 150,000 COVID-19 vaccines will be sent to Cape Verde following a request of the Cape Verdean government to the Netherlands to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Later in 2021, the Netherlands will send at least 3 million COVID-19 vaccines to Indonesia. This commitment was made during a conversation between the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigrid Kaag, and the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi.

Press release – Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

News article – NU.nl (in Dutch)

Dutch parliament discusses climate financing, health infrastructure, women’s and children’s rights

Following the publication of the Dutch government’s annual report for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of 2020, the Dutch parliament held a debate about Dutch development cooperation policy.

Points discussed during the debate included the increase of official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) while providing climate financing, preserving the international health infrastructure developed during COVID-19, and promoting the rights of women and children.

During the debate, members of parliament (MPs) also submitted motions which will be brought to a vote on June 29, 2021. MP Tom Van der Lee of the Green Party (GroenLinks) submitted a motion calling on the government to further the Netherlands' green investments concerning climate mitigation and adaptation, and MP Anne Kuik submitted a motion asking the minister to come up with a proposal on how the Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) can be extended.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Full debate recording – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch parliament adopts motion to make additional donation to COVAX, promotes COVID-19 vaccine donations in EU

On June 22, 2021, the Dutch parliament adopted a parliamentary motion asking the government to assess whether the Dutch government can make an additional contribution to COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, and to request EU member states to make additional COVID-19 vaccinations to COVAX when the situation allows.

The motion was submitted by Member of Parliament Tunahan Kuzu, of the political party Denk, and the motion received 121 out of 150 votes. All four government coalition parties—the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Democrats 66 (D66), and Christian Union (CU)—voted in favor of the motion.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch government supports aim to provide COVID-19 vaccines to at least 20% of most vulnerable in crisis areas by end of year

On June 10, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigrid Kaag, sent the Dutch parliament a letter regarding the approach to COVID-19 in humanitarian crises.

The aim is to provide COVID-19 vaccines to at least 20% of the most vulnerable people—such as primary health care workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions—in crisis areas by the end of 2021. The doses delivered for humanitarian context are in addition to regular deliveries to low- and lower-middle-income countries.

The Netherlands is committed to this goal through its contributions to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), a global vaccine initiative.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands amends development budget, allocating additional US$14 million

On May 31, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, published a bill to amend the development budget.

The bill, which is part of the annual spring memorandum, increases the budget for Foreign Trade and Development by €12 million (US$14 million). The budget for the policy article Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS is increased to combat COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries, and fund new SRHR partnerships.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Netherlands to donate 500,000+ COVID-19 vaccines to Suriname

On May 29, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, sent a letter to parliament announcing that the Netherlands plans to send between 500,000 and 750,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Suriname.

De Jonge stated that the vaccines will arrive in Suriname at the earliest at the end of June. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccines, the Netherlands will also send other medical supplies, such as oxygen and medicine, as soon as possible.

News article - NL Times

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch Development Minister takes on additional role as Minister of Foreign Affairs

On May 24, 2021, the Dutch government announced that the current Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, will from now on also take on the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, stepped aside to take on his new role as Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate.

These changes were made due to the former Minister of Economic Affairs, Bas van 't Wout, stepping down for at least three months due to health reasons.

News article - NL Times

Press release - Government of the Netherlands (in Dutch)