The Netherlands wants to play a pioneering role in arriving at more military partnership with European countries.
There must be forms of military partnership with ships, vehicles or aircraft must be considered that were previously unthinkable, says Defence Minister Hans Hillen in a debate in the Loer House of his budget for next year. “We must break the taboo that every country must be able to and even has to do everything themselves,” he said.
Hillen gave a list of countries with which the Netherlands also cooperates, such as Norway, Denmark and Belgium. With the Danes and Norwegians, talks are also underway on partnership on the deployment of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, the US fighter aircraft that is to replace the F-16.
The minister also referred to the partnership with the German army. In the period in which the First Netherlands-German Army Corps was set up, it was a “sensation” that Dutch soldiers came under German command. “Now you do not hear anyone going on about this any more.”
The Party for Freedom (PVV), the partner of the conservative (VVD) and Christian democratic (CDA) minority cabinet, warns that further-reaching partnership would means the Netherlands giving up authority over its own soldiers. Hillen rejects the suggestion that he is frittering away the national sovereignty. A fresh look at that principle is urgently necessary, according to the minister.
NATO remains the best guarantee of security on the European continent, according to Hillen. The EU also plays an effective role in the stabilisation and prevention of security problems, the minister added.
The European dependence on US military means to carry out even small missions is however bad for NATO and for Europe, the minister says. This dependence must be reduced.
”Only if the European member states can learn to stand more on their own feet can they in due course remain full allies of the United States. It is therefore not only a matter of cutting costs, but very certainly also of boosting the clout,” said the minister.