Strategic Monitor presented to Defense Minister Bijleveld

March 4th 2021 - 13:01
StratMon Bijleveld

The Hague, March 3, 2021 - Researchers Danny Pronk and Jack Thompson from the Clingendael Institute and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) presented the Strategic Monitor “Geopolitical Genesis: Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World” to the Minister of Defense, Ank Bijleveld, who also received it on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With their annual report, both think tanks provide insight into trends and developments in world politics. The main theme of this report is that now is the time for the European Union to consolidate its status as a nascent world power, and the Netherlands must play an active role in this.

“This conclusion in the Strategic Monitor underlines our own analysis and makes the need for Dutch investments in security and therefore also in Defense crystal clear,” says Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten. “With 1.7 billion in structural investments and 1.7 billion incidentally, this cabinet has taken a good first step, but more is needed. We must not look away from the growing threats and changing relationships in the world. We must face it and act accordingly. And be a reliable ally as well.”

The Strategic Monitor can be consulted here.

Six Challenges

The report describes six major challenges that the Netherlands and the EU will face in the post-corona world over the next ten years:

  1. The nature of multilateralism is changing.
  2. The interaction between the great powers will play a greater role in shaping the global system.
  3. Middle powers are becoming more assertive in defending their interests as the multilateral system weakens and competition between major powers intensifies.
  4. As a consequence of the weakening of the multilateral system and increasing competition between the great powers, non-state actors are gaining more power and influence. 
  5. The 'gray area' between war and peace becomes the main battleground in international competition.
  6. The influence of climate change on international peace and security will increase in the coming years.

No "return to normal"

The researchers argue that there will be no "return to normal" of trans-Atlantic relations, not even under President Biden. Europe will have to take more responsibility for its own defense and pursue an independent foreign policy. The Netherlands can play a bridging role here, but that requires more European cooperation. This is necessary in order to increase the influence of a relatively small country like the Netherlands, but also to form a united front against the divide and rule tactics of China. While China remains an important economic partner, it is necessary to come up with a unified European response to the increasingly aggressive stance of both China and Russia.

Assertiveness, cooperation and transatlantic bridging function

The Strategic Monitor provides recommendations for Dutch foreign and security policy to meet these varied challenges:

  1. A more assertive geopolitical position to protect Dutch and European interests and values.
  2. A more assertive and, above all, uniform attitude towards China.
  3. A more sophisticated and in this case also a uniform approach to dealing with Russia.
  4. Due to its historically close ties with the US, the Netherlands must strive to fulfill a transatlantic bridging function in specific policy areas. Within NATO, it must also strive for a more equal burden-sharing with the US and do more to promote peace and security in its own region.
  5. The Netherlands must collaborate strategically with other important middle powers, both in the field of trade and security.
  6. The development of an approach is necessary for dealing with non-state actors. In it, effective engagement is linked to discouragement of the inevitable downsides of cooperation with non-state actors acting out of self-interest.
  7. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Netherlands must energetically engage with other actors to tackle the consequences of global climate change.

These recommendations are not exhaustive, but provide a global blueprint for future Dutch foreign and security policy, both to help strengthen the EU's status as a burgeoning global power and to effectively tackle the complex challenges of today and the next decade. From the point of view of this report, this is indispensable to the geopolitical genesis of the Netherlands.


About the Clingendael Institute

The Netherlands Institute for International Relations 'Clingendael' is an independent think tank and academy in the field of international relations. We want to inspire and equip governments, businesses, NGOs and society in a broader sense with research and analyses, training courses and public debate. In this way we contribute to a safe, sustainable and just world. Clingendael is in the global ranking of think tanks in 25th place in the world and in the top 5 in Western Europe. For more information see their website

About The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies is engaged in strategic research in the field of peace and security. The HCSS provides advice on international and national defense and security issues, geopolitical developments and trends, conflict management, defense transformation and terrorism to the government, international institutions and the business community. For more information, see their website

Jack Thompson is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS, where he leads a range of projects in the fields of security and defense. His main research interests are US foreign policy, European security, transatlantic relations, and great power competition. Before joining the HCSS, he was Head of the Global Security Team at the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich and Lecturer at the Clinton Institute, University College Dublin. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, an MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. He is author of Great Power Rising: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of US Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press, 2019).