Double Dutch, 2 and 2 make 22
The Dutch Parliament will discuss the long awaited new Defense White Paper on May 28. Like many other NATO countries, it appears that the Dutch are raising their Defense budget. Prime Minister Rutte is aiming for a gradual raise to € 1,5 billion in 2021.
Defense expenditures are not a priority amongst politicians as they focus on ever increasing budgets for; Health-Care, Education and Social Welfare. The Dutch government seems to believe that security and peace can be bought at the last moment. Insurance policies do not go down when the economy underperforms. Maintaining security and peace require years of training with highly sophisticated weapon systems.
Procurement procedures for new equipment and spare parts apparently still require up to 3 years from order to implementation. Its process is outdated, slow and needs to change to adapt to threats in today’s geopolitical climate.
Recruiting and training of new personnel take years. As a matter of fact, year to date, the Dutch armed forces have a vacancy of 8,000 military personnel, this is 3000 more vacancies as the United Kingdom a country almost four times our size. All due to decades of budget cuts. Morale has never been so low. (*1)
The decay of the Armed Forces through budget cuts over the last two decades are the consequences of a lack of understanding by politicians of the military. They underestimated the geopolitical power shift worldwide and are slow to adapt to change. The arms race in the Far East, Russia’s increasing modernization of its armed forces, its nuclear arsenal and use of asymmetrical warfare tactics combined with the current explosive situation in the Middle East, which has already led to a world record number of refugees since WWII.
The Dutch Ministry of Defense is a “Distressed Asset” if one analyses it from a business point of view. The defense budget consists of just over € 2,0 Billion of non-military expenditures, (which were presented in 2018 as 1,2% of total GDP). In fact, it is 0,9% of GDP. Corporate Governance has miserably failed. Worse is, that the Government, Parliament and the military top brass have known this for years and have not peeped. The € 2,0 Billion ‘add on’ (*2) (*3) consists of the following:
- € 1.3 Billion Earmarked for pensions, and waiting monies for service personnel
- € 600 Million Charged by the Ministry of Finance in the form of annual VAT payments
- € 180 Million This is deducted in the form of a final tax levy on benefits for ex-service personnel (Uitkering Gewezen Militairen, UGM)
- € 60 Million Added to defense budget a year as International Security Budget (BIV)
The following questions remain; 1. Who has approved this double Dutch Corporate Governance? 2. Was the Ministry of Defense shackled by the Ministry of Finance as Ko Colijn, a geo-political analyst at “Instituut Clingendael” wrote in Vrij Nederland in 2017? (*4) 3. Has the Ministry of Finance blocked any 3 to 5 years forward planning by the Ministry of Defense? 4. What has happened to good old corporate governance?
Coalition for Defense Europe urges members of the Dutch Parliament to raise these questions during the discussion on the Defense White Paper on May 28th.
We want freedom and security
A solid, reliable and dedicated armed forces is the only insurance parliament must guarantee to maintain peace and prosperity. Coalition of Defence Europe urges the Dutch government to be a consistent partner of NATO and to implement corporate governance. We believe that one should take nothing for granted so that security and liberty may prosper together. Above all, we want freedom and security for our children and grandchildren.
Coalition for Defense Europe is a Non-Government Organization, to be able to keep pressure on parliament and government we need constant funding. If you wish to donate, please visit our website on www.coalitionfordefense.com
Founder & President Coalition for Defense Europe
*1 – 18/05/2018 Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5742195/Army-brass-admit-5-000-troops-short-targets-missed-month.html
*2 – 21/03/2017 Advisory council of International Affairs, Chairman AIV and former 11th NATO Secretary General, Prof.mr. J.G. de Hoop Scheffer
*3 – 21/03/2017 Note we have not added € 400 million for the Royal Military and Border Police, whose responsibilities are mostly of a non-military nature