On Monday 11 November the Dutch Parliament debated on the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), which was initially launched in 2012 under Minister Ploumen for Foreign Trade and Development. The fund aims to promote ‘development relevant trade’: imports and exports which are beneficial not only for the Netherlands, but also for the population in (poor) countries they invest in. However, the question is whether in practice it will work this way. According to Anouk Franck of Both ENDS, the DGGF focuses too much on trade, and economic factors. This is reflected in critical report which was recently published by ActionAid, SOMO and Both ENDS.
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. The note was the outcome of a process of consultation, scientific analysis and much discussion within and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? Are those new aspects a superficial change of discourse or a genuine break with the past? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us?
More than six months after the Dutch elections took place, a long period of debates, negotiations and incertainty has finally come to an end. The new coalition of center-rightwing parties was sworn in last Thursday the 26th of October. Having Sigrid Kaag of the liberal-democratic party D66 as the new Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the third Rutte government (Rutte III), we can look forward to where the opportunities lie in the new coalition’s plans to make the world fairer and more sustainable. The Coalition Agreement, which tries to build a bridge between the political centre and the centre-right, is a smart piece of work in terms of reaching compromises. In the current international climate of societies progressively growing apart, that is a striking achievement.
Today the Netherlands is celebrating freedom. Our freedom goes further than living in peace. We have the freedom to discuss policy to our hearts’ content on, for example, ending the lockdown on television, in the press and on social media. We can do that freely because we know that our rights to freedom of expression are well protected. But how different that is in countries where authoritarian leaders are grasping the crisis as an excuse to throw these rights out with the trash and rule with an iron hand.
You can't eat gold, copper and gas
"The virus is spreading quicker than the information" – that was the first we heard in the Netherlands about COVID-19 in many African countries and the measures they were taking to tackle it. While states of emergency were announced, borders were closed and we saw image after image of violent police and army responses, many people outside the big cities did not know that what was going on. When the situation became clearer, serious concerns arose about the consequences of the measures that had been taken: the informal economy coming to a standstill, food shortages and internal migration flows.
In the run up to the European elections of 22 May, the Fair, Green & Global Alliance is organizing a debate in which several Dutch party leaders for the European elections are challenged to answer the following questions.
How will our continent look like in the near future and, above all, how do we want to improve Europe? What is the role of European trade policy and tax evasion? Can Europe emerge from the crisis fair and green? In short, what is the future of Europe?