Foreign Affairs Barometer


Dutch focus turns to Europe

01 Dec 2020 - 07:52
Source: Duits-Nederlandse militaire samenwerking voor luchtmobiel optreden / Ministerie van Defensie
Support for greater European military independence, task specialisation and a higher defence budget

For many years Europe has relied on the nuclear and conventional power of the United States for its own security. The Netherlands has traditionally been one of the most Atlanticist allies. The world is changing fast, however, partly due to China’s emergence as a superpower and increased instability in Europe’s backyard. President Obama’s pivot of US security policy towards Asia was reinforced by President Trump’s anti-China policy. The Biden Presidency may well smooth the sharp edges of this policy, but the rivalry between the two superpowers will likely continue.

America will also continue to pressure European countries to ramp up efforts to maintain their own security. President Trump no longer accepted European NATO partners’ unfulfilled promises of ‘burden sharing’ and kept one of his election promises by withdrawing American troops from Syria, and from Germany. The tone under Biden will be more ‘alliance-focused’ again, but the message will be unchanged: Europe, fulfil your NATO commitments to spend 2% of GDP on defence. Against this background, European defence cooperation is rising up the priority list in the Netherlands and in the EU as a whole. European security is best guaranteed in cooperation with the US – for which NATO is the glue. But European countries will need to make a greater contribution to their own security – for example by tackling any security crises around Europe without American support.

The Defence Vision 2035 recently presented by the Dutch Ministry of Defence states that Europe must in future be able to act independently when European interests are at stake, and notes that this will require substantially higher investment in the years ahead. The Defence Vision also envisages enhanced cooperation between national armed forces and specialisation within NATO and the EU – which means countries will need to agree who will focus on each specialism. How do people in the Netherlands view these developments? Do they support greater European independence in defence? How do they view task specialisation? And do they think more should be spent on defence? The Clingendael Foreign Affairs Barometer canvassed the views of more than 23,000 people in the Netherlands.

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About the Foreign Affairs Barometer

What is the Dutch population’s view of developments abroad and in Europe? And what do Dutch people think of and expect from our foreign policy? The public debate and policy benefit from quantitative data on this. That is why Clingendael, together with the research institute Kieskompas, developed the 'Foreign Affairs Barometer'. In this opinion research, we regularly poll as many as 23,000 Dutch citizens to find out how they view international developments and the Netherlands’ foreign policy. On this page you will find the results grouped by theme.