Strengthened approach to threats from other countries | News item

News item | 11-28-2022 | 3:00 PM

Minister Yesilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security) today sent a reinforced approach to state threats to the House of Representatives on behalf of eight ministers. This threat is in fact increasing, as can be seen from the State Actors Threat Assessment 2 (DBSA 2) of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) and the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV).

The Netherlands has an open society and an open economy with a great deal of high-quality knowledge. But the world is changing. The geopolitical climate in the world has undeniably become more bleak and unstable. Cooperation with certain states creates opportunities, but also risks. For example, state actors are putting their own interests first in an increasingly assertive manner. In doing so, they use various means that can intentionally or unknowingly affect the prosperity, stability and openness of our society.

National security under pressure

The threat from states can manifest itself in various ways. From spreading disinformation to the use of (digital) resources for espionage and sabotage. This affects national security. For example, the DBSA 2 addresses a heightened threat from a more aggressive Russia that has repeatedly uttered nuclear rhetoric. China is increasingly assertive and wants to change the international legal order in its favor. In particular, the Russian war in Ukraine has shown that our open and international nature can also make us vulnerable. In addition, the threat of unwanted interference in diaspora communities remains undiminished.

“We must protect national security and the democratic legal order in our country as best we can. These are under pressure, especially with a war on the European continent. It is therefore necessary that we expand and significantly strengthen our approach to state threats in order to counter that threat. A robust approach that connects the efforts of government parties, the business community and knowledge institutions, and focuses on protecting our public interests and strengthening the ability to detect and tackle threats and, where necessary, provide a response.”

said Minister Yesilgöz-Zegerius.

Reinforced approach

In order to deal with this threat, an approach has been drawn up based on four important emphases:

  1. Proactive action when Dutch public interests are harmed,
  2. Promoting and protecting economic security, including knowledge security,
  3. Counteracting unwanted foreign interference, and
  4. Protect democratic processes and institutions.

The Netherlands must act proactively when our interests are harmed. We do this by drawing up a government-wide response framework that allows us to quickly push back against a malicious state actor. The purpose of this is to deter, but also to minimize the effect of certain actions. In addition, we will continue to build up our knowledge by conducting further research into hybrid threats, for example.

It is also important to protect our economic security. We do this by strongly focusing on raising awareness and a solid package of measures to increase resilience, including by further criminalizing espionage. A bill for this will be presented to the House of Representatives shortly. We will also reduce the risks of strategic dependencies on technology and raw materials, for example, and we will better protect the vital infrastructure. We are also taking measures to prevent unwanted knowledge and technology transfer in the field of purchasing and tendering and we want to prevent abuse of the highly skilled migrant scheme and the recognized sponsorship.

It is also important to prevent unwanted foreign interference. Awareness about this needs to be raised. Extra efforts are needed to deal with unwanted interference by China, but other countries are certainly not lost sight of. In addition to the existing efforts, more efforts will be made to raise awareness within communities, among political office holders and government employees.

Finally, protecting democratic processes and institutions is also paramount. For example, there is the government-wide approach to disinformation.