Policy Updates

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Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Netherlands pledges US$28 million at Global Goal Summit

At the Global Goal Summit, convened by Global Citizen and the European Commission in London on June 27, 2020, the Netherlands pledged €25 million (US$28 million) towards an equitable and affordable COVID-19 vaccine.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte specifically mentioned in his video statement that the amount will be directed "to the procurement of vaccines for vulnerable countries that need it most because is essential that no-one is left behind". The summit raised a total sum of €6.1 billion (US$6.9 billion).

Event website - Global Citizen

Dutch Socialist Party starts petition with other European parties for free access to COVID-19 vaccine

On June 26, 2020, the Dutch Socialist Party (SP) announced a pan-European initiative with more than ten other European leftist parties to advocate for free access to a COVID-19 vaccine. Through the petition, called #Right2Cure, the coalition intends to put pressure on the European Commission (EC) to ensure free access to COVID-19 for everyone.

Despite the EC's commitment to free vaccine access, there is still a high risk that the vaccine will be privatized through patents. #Right2Cure was formed as a public pressure campaign to push back against this potential eventuality, which they see as a gross violation of human rights.

News article - SP (in Dutch)

Dutch Minister of Health launches advisory panel on COVID-19 research, announces additional US$22 million in funding

On June 24, Dutch Minister of Health Hugo De Jonge announced that the government has allocated an additional €20 million (US$22 million) to COVID-19 research and development (R&D), bringing the Netherlands' total COVID-19 R&D spending to €68 million (US$74 million) to date.

Of the new subsidies, €10 million (US$11 million) was allotted to Stichting Sanquin Bloedvoorziening, which specializes in blood plasma research. The other €10 million (US$11 million) went to the COVID-19 research program of the Dutch Organization for Health Research and Innovation, ZonMW.

De Jonge also announced the creation of a panel of experts who will advise him about new, promising treatment methods for COVID-19. The panel was launched in cooperation with the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), the Medicines Evaluation Board (CVB), Central Committee on Human Research (CCMO), the Federation of Medical Specialists (FMS), and ZonMw.

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Dutch parliament rejects motion on AIV-recommended allocation of US$1.1 billion for global COVID-19 effort; final decision still to be taken by cabinet

On June 23, 2020, the Dutch parliament published the result of the motions put forward during the parliamentary debate a week earlier around the Netherlands’ approach to combating COVID-19 globally.

A number of motions were accepted, including the request for an extension to freeze debt payments of fragile countries, the call to ensure the most vulnerable people and countries receive sufficient support, the motion for a fair distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the creation of a public-private Africa coalition.

However, the motion to follow the budgetary guidelines presented by the Advisory Council for International Relations (AIV), which advised the investment of €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to support the most vulnerable countries in the COVID-19 crisis, was rejected. The final decision on the additional ODA amount will be taken by the cabinet in the next few weeks. 

Press Release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

In bid to become first female Prime Minister of Netherlands, Dutch Development Minister announces candidacy for party leadership

On June 21, 2020, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, announced her candidacy to become the party leader of the social-liberal party, D66, for the upcoming Dutch general elections scheduled for March 17, 2021. In her announcement, Kaag explicitly stated her wish to become the first female Prime Minister of the Netherlands. 

The members of D66 will elect their new party leader at the end of August and the results will be announced on September 2, this year. 

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

Leading Dutch think-tank hosts webinar with global players in international COVID-19 response

On June 18, 2020, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael hosted a webinar with some of the most prominent players in the international COVID-19 response, including the Global Financing Facility (GFF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The organizations explained their distinct roles and described their efforts to tackle the pandemic. The GFF emphasized their focus on ensuring that women and children have access to vital services, while the WHO described its role as normative, providing timely guidance to all states to enable them to respond adequately to the crisis, and convening the different partners for the development of a new vaccine. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed €250 million (US$281 million) to combat COVID-19 and is deeply involved in research efforts to produce a COVID-19 vaccine that can be equitably distributed. 

Event website - Institute Clingendael

Dutch pharmaceutical company will begin human trials of COVID-19 vaccine in July 2020

The Dutch pharmaceutical company Janssen Vaccines announced that clinical trials on human subjects for a potential COVID-19 vaccine will begin in July of 2020. The vaccine will be tested on 1,045 healthy people in Belgium and the United States. According to Janssen, if the trial results are positive, the vaccine will be fairly distributed between countries globally.

Janssen Vaccines is also expanding its production capacity, with the intention to have one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine available in 2021.

While not directly financing this vaccine development program, the Dutch government has helped facilitating the development process. 

News article - Nu.nl (in Dutch)

Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development provides update on COVID-19 research efforts

On May 29, 2020, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) posted an update regarding the different COVID-19 research programs that it is sponsoring in cooperation with the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). ZonMw as well as NWO receive the majority of their funding from the Dutch Ministry of Health (VWS).

Between the May 1-25, 2020, more than 1,200 research proposals related to COVID-19 were submitted to ZonMw. These proposals cover four focus areas: predictive diagnostics and treatment, care and prevention, societal dynamics, and science for professional practice. To date, a total of  €30 million (US$34 million) has been made available for the accepted research projects.

News article - ZonMw

At Dutch parliamentary debate, Cabinet stalls on response to recommended US$1.1 billion expenditure for international COVID-19 response

On June 15, 2020, the Dutch Parliament and the Development Minister had a debate about the advice given by the Advisory Council for International Affairs (AIV) on how the Netherlands should respond to the COVID-19 crisis globally. The recommendations issued by the AIV suggested that the government should invest €1.0 billion (US$1.1 billion) to support vulnerable countries with their COVID-19 response and to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of this COVID-19 crisis. By the time of the debate, the Dutch Cabinet had not yet formulated a response to the advice, which evoked surprise and disappointment among the majority of parliamentary representatives.

Representatives from all political parties, except the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), share the view that the Netherlands' official development assistance (ODA) should not be further reduced, despite the expected drop in the gross domestic product (GDP).

It is expected that the cabinet will formulate a response to the AIV advice before August 2020. 

Press Release - Parliament (in Dutch)

Italy, Germany, France, and Netherlands sign agreement with British drugmaker for 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials

The Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, a group formed by France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, signed a contract with the British drugmaker AstraZeneca to supply up to 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, is still in clinical trials. If the trial results convince regulators the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2020.

The Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, announced that the vaccine would be distributed for free, starting with the highest-risk groups. Speranza added that a significant part of the production process would take place in Italy.

Press release - Italian Ministry of Health website

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Netherlands pledges US$366 million at Gavi’s Global Vaccine Summit: 30% increase from 2015 pledge

At the Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in London on June 4, 2020, the Netherlands pledged €325 million (US$366 million) for the period of 2021-2025. This represents an 30% increase from the Netherlands' most recent pledge to Gavi in 2015 of €250 million (US$282 million), however, a part of the new contribution is for a 10-year period and includes long term finance to the International Financing Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), one of Gavi's funding instruments. The Netherlands was represented at the event by its Prime Minister, Mark Rutte.

Rutte commended Gavi for the extraordinary results that it achieved, and noted that the Netherlands has been a staunch supporter of Gavi since its inception in 2000. Still, Rutte said, too many children suffer from preventable diseases, and therefore much work remains to be done.  

Rutte furthermore acknowledged that Gavi plays a key role in combatting COVID-19, but he also called on Gavi to work even more closely with other global health partners to align efforts at country level.

Press release - Stichting Vaccinvrij (in Dutch)

Press release - Gavi  

Dutch Development Minister looks back on Netherlands’ support for EU development cooperation

On May 27, 2020, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, presented an annual letter to Parliament on Dutch efforts regarding EU development cooperation.  

The letter outlines the priorities of the Dutch cabinet (which include sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), combatting climate change, and international corporate social responsibility) as well as some reflections on recent developments and achievements. 

Kaag reflected on the Netherlands’ advocacy for the inclusion of SRHR topics during negotiations on the European Union’s ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ (NDICI) in 2019. The Netherlands also called upon other EU member states and the European Council to create an EU action plan on international corporate social business in November of 2019. 

The letter also notes the results of a large-scale study on the effectiveness of EU-development cooperation in the period of  2013-2018, solicited from the European Centre for Development Policy (ECDPM) and the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitiek (DIE) by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The study’s findings were generally positive and underlined the importance of the EU as a global actor for development cooperation. 

Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch) 

Dutch Development Minister presents report on recent World Bank Group meeting, calls for World Bank to lead economic recovery efforts

On May 26, 2020, Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, presented a report to Parliament on the World Bank Group’s April 17 Development Committee meeting. 
The Committee emphasized the importance of adopting a holistic, long-term strategy to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, which should be guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. The World Bank has reserved US$160 billion to implement this strategy over the next 15 months.
The Netherlands fully supports to this approach and, specifically, asked the World Bank to take a leading role in promoting the economic recovery of countries affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Netherlands strongly advocated for an emphasis on sustainability, education, and the provision of essential health care and food relief to countries in need. 
The Dutch government also supported the call of the World Bank and the International Monitory Fund for a temporary suspension of debt service payments to bilateral creditors by the poorest countries.


Press release - Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)
 

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)