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Making an impact

Clingendael researchers make their presence felt in the Dutch and international media. In 2021, they shared their insights and offered media commentary on more than 1,000 occasions. This has reinforced the position of the Institute as a household brand for expertise on international affairs.

In the run-up to the Dutch parliamentary elections of 2021, Clingendael published a widely-read analysis of the foreign and security paragraphs of the different election manifestoes. This was accompanied by the only (online) election debate with members of parliament, hosted by Clingendael, that focused exclusively on foreign, European and security policy.

In 2021 our Foreign Affairs Barometer opinion polling showed that the Dutch population is most concerned about irregular migration, the rise of China and climate change.

Our Foreign Affairs Barometer opinion polling in 2021 indicated a strong downward trajectory in Dutch perceptions of China. This polling also showed that when it comes to international challenges, the Dutch population is most concerned about irregular migration, the rise of China and climate change.

In 2021, the Institute continued its role monitoring Brexit and its implications by contributing with several think pieces in European outlets on post-Brexit relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

As part of our work to move the European agenda forward, we co-organised the fourth annual Spanish-Dutch dialogue alongside our partners at the Real Instituto Elcano. This dialogue brings together senior policymakers and think tankers from both sides to discuss common themes. In 2021, the focus was on European military and economic open strategic autonomy.

Clingendael researchers were furthermore appointed in high-level European taskforces that help shape policy at Dutch and EU levels. They included taskforces on the Conference on the Future of Europe and on Europe’s response to economic coercion.

Our magazine, the Clingendael Spectator – with more than 100 articles published this year – increased its readership from 140,300 visitors in 2020 to 439,300 visitors in 2021. The large increase is partly due to a number of exceptionally well-read articles on pressing social themes.


One of 2021’s highlights was the performance of Clingendael’s general director Monika Sie at Het Nationale Theater (HNT). As part of the program ‘Never waste a good crisis’, she presented a kaleidoscopic analysis of the state of Europe after almost two years of pandemic. Monika Sie looked ahead to the aftershocks of the COVID-19 crisis that Europe may face, including major migratory pressure on Europe’s external borders, and new power relations in geopolitics. She also discussed how crises can lead to greater European self-understanding.

Monika Sie during her presentation on the state of Europe at Het Nationale Theater on 8 November 2021. Source: Het Nationale Theater.

Monika Sie during her presentation on the state of Europe at Het Nationale Theater on 8 November 2021. Source: Het Nationale Theater.

In 2021, Clingendael organised a four-part event series called ‘Dealing with China on High-Tech issues’ with international speakers in order to draw Dutch and European attention to the interface between geopolitical competition with China and digital issues.

Still from the first webinar ‘European, US and Japanese Approaches and Policies’ of the four-part event series ‘Dealing with China on High-Tech issues’

The Institute also played a key role in organising debate and reflection in the Netherlands on the outcome of the Dutch parliamentary elections and the German Bundestag elections, and what they mean for future EU policy.

Furthermore, through the AIG Global Trade Series podcasts, Clingendael and its partners were able to reach a broad, international audience and inform them about relevant political and economic dynamics shaping the international trade landscape. The podcast series has truly global reach. As part of the project, Clingendael researchers also contributed to briefings with the Japanese vice-minister for trade and the European Commission’s director-general for trade.

We moreover organised policy debates on key European issues drawing in Dutch and EU audiences. One example is an event on Dutch views on European economic sovereignty which featured Dutch Member of Parliament Ruben Brekelmans, senior EU policymaker Denis Redonnet and German and Dutch think tankers. It illustrates the central role that Clingendael plays in shaping the debate about European affairs in the Netherlands and our ability to inject Dutch ideas into European deliberations.

Looking ahead

As our societies hopefully turn the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, we aim to organise ‘live’ events again while locking in the benefits that the expanded reach of digital meetings offer. Clingendael wants to build on its role as Dutch hub in the European think tank landscape by organising events with key experts and practitioners, publishing ahead-of-the-curve analyses, unlocking discussions on international affairs for broader audiences in the Netherlands and building ties with think tanks across Europe.