Strategic Dialogues

As in previous years, Clingendael was honoured to jointly organise high-level bilateral dialogues with Italy and Spain. These track-1.5 dialogues are organised in close cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their governmental and think tank counterparts. Their purpose is to foster stronger bilateral understanding on foreign policy issues of common interest. Clingendael partnered with the Elcano Royal Institute to organise the Dutch-Spanish dialogue and, for the Dutch-Italian “VanWittel/Vanvitelli” dialogue, with the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome. Both dialogues took place in a hybrid format: ministers met face-to-face, but senior policy makers and think tank participants joined online.

Public Platform

The COVID-19 pandemic shaped international economic and political affairs in 2020. It also became a determining factor in the programming of Clingendael’s Public Platform. The pandemic presented a host of challenges, but also new opportunities. Organising physical public events was no longer possible. Clingendael quickly adapted to this new reality and organised numerous digital dialogues and webinars, both for a wider audience and expert audiences. These constraints also offered a number of benefits. Digital meetings allow more participation from a wider geographic space, while physical meetings have geographic and logistical limits.

The pandemic also sparked a surge in demand for expert commentary and analysis on the impact it was having on international (geo)political and economic relations and international and European cooperation. The crisis became a topic in itself and our programming took due account of this.

The number of publications – mainly shorter Clingendael Alerts – and events increased compared to the previous year. Clingendael was also strongly represented in the (inter)national media.

In recognition of the role that Clingendael plays in the international and European think tank debate, the Institute improved its ranking on the TTCSP Global Think Tank Index. Clingendael reached the number 3 position on the list “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe”. Out of more than 10,000 think tanks worldwide, Clingendael maintained its 25th position in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” category. Among non-US thinktanks, Clingendael ranks 13th. It also rose to the 13th position on the list of Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks (+4).

Public discussion via Zoom with Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok. Source: AD.

Among the outputs, the Public Platform’s priority deliverable in 2020 was the “Foreign Affairs Barometer” survey series. The views of the Dutch population on various foreign policy questions were assessed through a survey among more than 23,000 respondents. Throughout 2021 more Barometer analyses will be published. The Barometer survey was also the focus of a number of strategy sessions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and public discussions attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.



"Wat denkt u: komen de Russen?": Dreigingsbeeld over Rusland polariseert in Nederland (NL)

Bob Deen, Christopher Houtkamp, Hugo Klijn en Monika Sie Dhian Ho 

Dutch views on Transatlantic ties and European security cooperation in times of geopolitical rivalry (ENG)

Rem Korteweg, Christopher Houtkamp en Monika Sie Dhian Ho 

Zorgen over buitenlandse inmenging (NL)

Kars de Bruijne, Christopher Houtkamp en Monika Sie Dhian Ho 

De Nederlandse wending naar Europa: Steun voor meer Europese militaire zelfstandigheid, taakspecialisatie en een hoger defensiebudget (NL)

Dick Zandee, Christopher Houtkamp en Monika Sie Dhian Ho 

Wel de telefoon, niet de netwerken: Nederlandse houdingen ten opzichte van Chinese technologie (NL)

Brigitte Dekker, Christopher Houtkamp, Maaike Okano-Heijmans en Monika Sie Dhian Ho 

In 2020, Clingendael researchers provided expert commentary no fewer than 978 times in national and international media, including online, television/video, radio and print. More than half of our media commentary (496 times) was in foreign media. All media appearances can be found on our website. Clingendael experts also published 25 opinion pieces in Dutch and foreign media outlets.

Below are highlights of the op-eds and publications that Clingendael experts produced in 2020 as part of the Institute’s mission to inform public and expert debate about international and European affairs.



Corona: EU’s existential crisis  

Bob Deen & Kimberley Kruijver 

A joint effort to increase production of medical masks in Europe 

Sanne van der Lugt 

Macron’s overtures towards Russia deserve support, not scorn 

Hugo Klijn & Bob Deen 

Defence & COVID-19: why budget cuts should be off the table 

Dick Zandee, Els Duchateau-Polkerman & Adája Stoetman 

COVID-19 and Defence: the need for EU funding 

Bob Deen & Kimberley Kruijver 

The politics of COVID-19 in the Sahel  

Loïc Bisson, Anna Schmauder & Johannes Claes 

The spies who came in from the cold war 

Danny Pronk 

Five crises around Europe not to be forgotten despite COVID-19 

Bob Deen, Tobias von Lossow, Jos Meester, Louise van Schaik & Dick Zandee 

The Netherlands can choose opt-outs EU coronavirus recovery fund 

Adriaan Schout 

EU Enlargement package: can one bad apple spoil the whole barrel? 

Nienke van Heukelingen & Wouter Zweers 

Fears for militarization of climate change 

Louise van Schaik, Tobias von Lossow & Maha Yassin  

Building the ‘Belt and Road’ in Europe?: Chinese construction companies and transport infrastructure in the European Union 

Frans-Paul van der Putten & Mirela Petkova 

Europeanising health policy in times of coronationalism 

Louise van Schaik &Remco van der Pas 

‘Designed in Ethiopia’ and ‘Made in China’: Sino-Ethiopian technology collaboration in South-South relations

Jos Meester 

Onverminderd heeft China de tijd aan zijn kant (Oped - NRC Handelsblad) 

Frans-Paul van der Putten & Luuk van Middelaar  

Opinie: Vergis je niet: coronacrisis is ook een digitale pandemie (Oped - de Volkskrant)  

Maaike Okano-Heijmans  

De euro valt niet en Nederland is niet gek geworden (Oped - NRC & l’Opinion) 

Adriaan Schout 

Spanish vs Dutch views on the EU recovery fund (Oped - EUobserver) 

Monika Sie Dhian Ho, Charles Powell, Rem Korteweg, Federido Steinberg & Miguel Otero-Iglesias 

Like it or not: coercive power is essential to development (Oped -OECD) 

Erwin van Veen  

Could the corona crisis strengthen due diligence in cyberspace? (Oped - Council on Foreign Relations)  

Sico van der Meer  

Ode aan het Europese doormodderen (Oped - Trouw) 

Adriaan Schout  

EU should not rush investment deal with China (Oped - EU Observer) 

Maaike Okano-Heijmans & Ingrid d’Hooghe 

What Iran’s leaders really think about Biden 

(Oped - Foreign Policy) 

Erwin van Veen & Maysam Behravesh 

The online magazine Clingendael Spectator published 141 articles, including 6 thematic volumes on intervention policy, arms control, the Trump presidency, the fight against IS, the state of Africa and 10 years after the Arab Spring.

As part of its public platform, Clingendael organised 17 public events – mainly webinars – and 12 expert events or digital dialogues. A number of these events were full-day conferences – such as the annual State of the Union conference. Aside from the focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, four topics featured prominently in our event programming: Russia and Eastern Europe, China, Turkey and EU-UK relations. A selection follows below.


Future of Europe Breakfast: Europe's far-right surge

Brexit: the saga continues  

Future of Europe | Digital Dialogues 'The EU’s response to Corona: values at stake?' 

Webinar 'Corona: why investments in global health are needed now' 

The Zagreb Summit: a moment of decisions for EU Enlargement?

Covid-19 als mondiale gezondheidsuitdaging: het Nederlandse perspectief

Cyber security webinar with Huib Modderkolk

Future of Europe | Digital Dialogues Stefaan de Rynck on future EU-UK relationship  

The Impact of Covid10 on Russia’s politics and foreign policy

5 years into the Malian Peace Agreement – where do we stand?

EU Options for dealing with the Syrian Conflict 

Future of Europe | Digital Dialogues: What should the EU’s trade policy review deliver? 

Belarus – a hot summer ahead?

Webinar on Turkey #1: ‘Continuity and change in Turkish domestic politics’ 

CREEC Webinar 'What will US-Chinese competition mean for European security?' 

Webinar China and the EU in the Western Balkans – A Zero Sum Game?  

Webinar on Turkey #2: Turkish Foreign Policy in the Levant  

Online Publieksgesprek met minister Blok en Monika Sie over Clingendael Buitenland Barometer

Clingendael State of the Union conference 2020  

Online debat: De wederopstanding van China 

Webinar Europe's Digital Decade & China’s Digital Silk Road 

A Fireside Chat on Brexit: Dutch, Irish and European perspectives  

Webinar: NATO’s strategic reflection after the US elections  

Aside from events that Clingendael organises itself, Clingendael researchers contribute to numerous policy debates at conferences and roundtables around the world. As invited speakers, Clingendael experts share their insights and analyses, helping to improve policymaking and mutual understanding. These outreach activities are also an important source to ensure Clingendael researchers have access to the latest thinking on various foreign policy issues. In 2020, for example, Clingendael researchers have addressed the Raisina Dialogue, EFTA Council, Japan-Europe Policy Conference, CSCAP-EU Committee meeting, Havencongres 2020, the European Parliament, Chatham House Global Trade Conference, the Benelux Parliament and the EU-UK Track 2 process.

In 2020, Clingendael further strengthened its outreach strategies, focusing in part on online media strategies. Throughout 2020 we witnessed exceptional growth of the Clingendael website. Our pageviews increased by 26.9% to over 1.7 million in 2020.

Pageviews per year
Pageviews per year
Website sessions by country
Website sessions by country
Website sessions by age
Website sessions by age

The data shows that 31.7% of our audience is in the 25-34 age range, with the 18-24 age range making up 25.9% and the 35-44 age range in third place with 14.8%.

Sources of website traffic
Sources of website traffic

More than 85% of our website traffic is generated directly and through search engines (such as Google).

Clingendael significantly increased its reach and engagement on its social media channels in 2020. Our follower base on LinkedIn grew by 29.9%, on Twitter by 24.8%, on Facebook by 29.9% and our newsletter subscribers by 44.6%.

Followers on social media channels and newsletter subscriptions
Followers on social media channels and newsletter subscriptions