/A look into how Foreign Affairs are done in the Netherlands

A look into how Foreign Affairs are done in the Netherlands

With a great deal of intergovernmental bodies within EU and from individual countries, it can get confusing sometimes, distinguishing the certain roles that specific entities play. Luckily, as part of the Working at the Ministries event held at Utrecht University, officers from the ministries of Interior Relations, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Security ,Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and Defense all came to describe what their ministry tries to accomplish and its effect on the Netherlands, Europe, and the World.

I was in attendance to be a part of the meeting conducted by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Their policy officers of the North Africa/Middle East Department, Piter Pals & Marloes Van Fulpen discussed the various day-to-day operations as well as the overall outreach the ministry intends to have. So, though a really interesting institution,  what exactly does the ministry do? 

According to officer Fulpen, “The ministry, to a degree, manages security, migration, aid, council work, and includes thematic departments including humanitarian efforts and cultural relations”. The ministry is located domestically in the Hague yet has more than 150 embassies, consulates, and permanent missions to international organisations. 

The work that the ministry does in each consulate and department is dependent on the area, however represents the judgement, views, and social policy of the Netherlands. All over the world workers of the department try to assist those who are Dutch living abroad as well as maintaining relationships with the countries and regions they inhabit. Plus, more than just positive outreach, the ministry, workers, and consulates can choose to praise and denounce certain actions by foreign leaders and governments, making their voice heard on a global scale.

  When asked what influence the European Union has in power of these overseas consulates as well as the domestic bodies of the ministry officer Pals answers: “Because the Netherlands is in the EU and conforms to their policies, overall that is the greatest influence the union has with our offices and policy.”

Yet, the ministry does more than just global actions to serve Dutch interest. Within the continent of the Europe the outreach of consulates goes beyond just keeping positive relations, as officer Fulpen explained “Within the EU there are Dutch consulates and officers who try to make sure we are heard…they are our eyes and ears in the rest of Europe.”

Overall, hearing from the officers was a good chance to improve my knowledge of the working of the Dutch government, as well as all the work and decision making that goes into being a consulate employee or regional department officer. On a European scope, I would like to have been able to compare the strategies of other nations and their foreign affairs department to that of the Netherlands and its effect on public opinion and policy making. Yet what I think is most important, is how the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken operates and how will they to continue to operate in a changing more homogenized EU.

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