The discussions will notably focus on the situation in Syria, Operation Serval and the European training mission in Mali, as well as on European issues (deepening of the economic and monetary union, European efforts to promote growth and employment, internal market and free trade agreements between the EU and its major partners). They will also provide an opportunity to discuss issues relating to cultural, scientific and academic cooperation as well as the industrial partnerships between our two countries.
After a long phase of fairly insignificant political, economic and cultural exchanges, French-Dutch relations improved considerably at the beginning of the 2000s, following President Chirac’s State visit to The Hague in February 2000, in particular.
Many convergences have been identified, specifically on European issues. Among other things, this policy of rapprochement resulted in the creation of the French-Dutch Cooperation Council (CCFN) in 2003 and was clarified in a statement on common perspectives, a genuine bilateral action plan, during the Foreign Affairs Minister’s visit to The Hague on 19/04/2005. The objective of the CCFN is to strengthen bilateral ties by getting members of civil society involved. Concrete initiatives relating to the exchange of journalists, scientific and university cooperation, decentralized cooperation and the establishment of a network of Franco-Dutch “think tanks” have been set up in diverse fields. Today, the CCFN can be credited with several accomplishments: the Young Talents programme (the most recent one to date was held in Lyons on 17 and 18 June 2010, devoted to “public health in Europe"), annual Erasme-Descartes conferences (e.g.: on the APD (Action publique pour le Développement- Public action for development), in Amsterdam, on 12 November 2009, “When change comes from architects”, in Paris, on 19 November 2010), round tables on topical issues (the most recent one to date was held in May 2010 in Rotterdam on the topic, “How to get out of the crisis?”). The sixth session of the CCFN, featuring a renewed line-up and under the new vice presidencies of Messrs. de Hoop Scheffer and de Boissieu, was held on 25 May 2010 in Rotterdam in the presence of Messrs. Kouchner and Verhagen.
Contacts between France and the Netherlands have been stepped up significantly since 2007 and now bilateral relations are described as being very good, and even excellent.
Contacts that are specifically bilateral in nature are frequent, at the level of the French President (Mr.Sarkozy met with Mr.Balkenende in Paris on 16/06/2007, 5/03/2008, 2/10/2008 and 10/09/2009 and then with Mr.Rutte in Paris on 29 November 2010) and the Prime Minister (Mr.Fillon met with Mr.Balkenende in the Netherlands on 15/10/2007, informally in Le Mans on 14/06/2008 and in Warsaw on 29/04/2009, alongside the PPE conference, and then with Mr.Rutte in Paris on 29 November 2010), as well as ministers.
There are numerous bilateral consultations, either within working groups (drugs, innovation/SMEs), or in the form of interministerial contacts (strategic affairs, CAP, etc.). Certain joint initiatives were born of this rapprochement between departments, following the example of the initiative on reducing surplus stocks of ammunition at the OSCE in December 2003. Other joint studies are underway on development aid, African issues, human rights, non-proliferation, and sports (cf. French-Dutch memorandum for a European policy on sports signed on 24/10/2007). Finally, since 2001, the diplomatic exchange programme between the two countries and maintaining a high frequency of meetings between senior civil servants has been making it possible to forge stronger ties than in the past.
Updated on 10.01.11
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