The Netherlands government has today approved the national plan on the NATO Defence Investment Pledge. This plan includes the government commitment to designate additional funds from the national budget next spring. As part of this commitment, the government intends to increase defence spending.
The security environment has become more unstable. This calls for additional investment in Defence. The number of threats we are facing has grown, and they have also become increasingly complex. Furthermore, Europe has an obligation to improve its ability to provide its own security, and to reduce its reliance on the United States in this respect.
It is for these reasons that at the July 2018 NATO summit, government leaders and heads of state agreed to announce by the end of 2018 their plans on how to increase their defence spending up to 2024. With the publication of this national plan, the Netherlands is complying with this agreement. NATO allies had already agreed in 2014 to increase their defence spending over a 10year period to achieve the NATO norm of 2% of GDP.
Netherlands Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld-Schouten: “With this plan, the government has sent a clear signal that it is taking current threats seriously. The government is announcing its commitment to invest in Defence. This is not without obligation, as it is important for the Netherlands to take steps to remain a reliable ally.”
In the plan, the government has set out its intention to invest in 5 prioritised targets: additional F-35 combat aircraft, increase of firepower on land and at sea, and reinforcement of special operations forces and of the cyber and information domains. These priorities will help to ensure that the Netherlands armed forces can respond more rapidly, operate more robustly and sustain operations for longer periods of time. The guiding principle in this prioritisation is that every euro allocated to defence spending in the Netherlands should benefit the striking power of NATO and the EU. Investment in these priorities will also offset current NATO and EU shortfalls.
Additional follow-up steps: personnel
The 5 priorities set out in the national plan are only part of the NATO capability targets the Netherlands needs to meet. The Netherlands armed forces still have considerable strides to make, and follow-up steps are required. These steps will be included in the review of the Defence White Paper in 2020. This review will transcend the question of how to meet the additional NATO capability target, and will include matters such as personnel, operational management, national security and knowledge and innovation.
Netherlands Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld-Schouten: “Trust in the organisation must be restored. Not only to retain our current personnel, but also with a view to recruiting sufficient new personnel. This will take more than just procuring more equipment. We are well aware of that. This plan, however, was drawn up for the purpose of presenting our allies with an overview of how we intend to meet the NATO capability targets.”