Background Note: The Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Area: 41,526 sq. km. (16,485 sq. mi.).
(pop. 744,736). Other cities--The Hague, seat of government (475,959);
Rotterdam (583,853); Utrecht (283,893).
Terrain: Coastal lowland.
Nationality: Noun--Dutchmen and Dutchwomen. Adjective--Dutch.
Ethnic groups: Predominantly Dutch; largest minority communities are Moroccans,
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, other.
Education: Years compulsory--10. Attendance--nearly 100%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.0/1,000. Life
Work force (2004: 7,401 million): Commercial services--46.1%;
non-commercial services--33.2%; industry--19.1%; agriculture--1.6%.
democracy under a constitutional monarch.
Constitution: 1814 and 1848.
Executive--monarch (chief of state), prime minister (head of government),
cabinet. Legislative--bicameral parliament (First and Second Chambers).
Subdivisions: 12 provinces.
parties: Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Labor Party (PvdA), Socialist Party
(SP), Liberal Party (VVD), other minor parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (2006 est.): $688
GDP real growth rate (2006 est.): 3.0%.
GDP per capita (2006 est.):
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, fertile soil.
(2.1% of GDP): Products--dairy, poultry, meat, flower bulbs, cut flowers,
vegetables and fruits, sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, barley.
of GDP): Types--agro-industries, steel and aluminum, metal and engineering
products, electric machinery and equipment, bulk chemicals, natural gas, petroleum
products, transport equipment, microelectronics.
Services (73.6% of GDP): Types--trade,
hotels, restaurants, transport, storage and communication, financial (banking
and insurance) and business services, care and other.
Trade (2006 est.): Exports--$400.5
billion (f.o.b.): mineral fuels, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment,
processed food and tobacco, agricultural products. Imports--$355.8 billion
(f.o.b.): mineral fuels and crude petroleum, machinery, transportation equipment,
consumer goods, foodstuffs. Major trading partners in 2005 (exports/imports)--EU
(76.8%/55.0%), Germany (23.6%/19.0%), Belgium (11.9%/10.7%), China (0.9%/7.7%),
U.K. (9.3%/6.3%), U.S. (4.9%/8.0%).
Dutch are primarily of Germanic stock with some Gallo-Celtic mixture. Their small
homeland frequently has been threatened with destruction by the North Sea and
has often been invaded by the great European powers.
Caesar found the region which is now the Netherlands inhabited by Germanic tribes
in the first century B.C. The western portion was inhabited by the Batavians and
became part of a Roman province; the eastern portion was inhabited by the Frisians.
Between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D., most of both portions were conquered
by the Franks. The area later passed into the hands of the House of Burgundy and
the Austrian Habsburgs. Falling under harsh Spanish rule in the 16th century,
the Dutch revolted in 1558 under the leadership of Willem of Orange. By virtue
of the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the seven northern Dutch provinces became the
Republic of the United Netherlands.
the 17th century, considered its "golden era," the Netherlands became a great
sea and colonial power. Among other achievements, this period saw the emergence
of some of painting's "Old Masters," including Rembrandt and Hals, whose works--along
with those of later artists such as Mondriaan and Van Gogh--are today on display
in museums throughout the Netherlands and the world.
country's importance declined, however, with the gradual loss of Dutch technological
superiority and after wars with Spain, France, and England in the 17th and 18th
century. The Dutch United Provinces supported the Americans in the Revolutionary
War. In 1795, French troops ousted Willem V of Orange, the Stadhouder under the
Dutch Republic and head of the House of Orange.
Napoleon's defeat in 1815, the Netherlands and Belgium became the "Kingdom of
the United Netherlands" under King Willem I, son of Willem V of Orange. The Belgians
withdrew from the union in 1830 to form their own kingdom. King Willem II was
largely responsible for the liberalizing revision of the constitution in 1848.
The Netherlands prospered during the long
reign of Willem III (1849-90). At the time of his death, his daughter Wilhelmina
was 10 years old. Her mother, Queen Emma, reigned as regent until 1898, when Wilhelmina
reached the age of 18 and became the monarch.
Netherlands proclaimed neutrality at the start of both world wars. Although it
escaped occupation in World War I, German troops overran the country in May 1940.
Queen Wilhelmina fled to London and established a government-in-exile. Shortly
after the Netherlands was liberated in May 1945, the Queen returned. Crown Princess
Juliana acceded to the throne in 1948 upon her mother's abdication. In April 1980,
Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of her daughter, now Queen Beatrix. Crown Prince
Willem Alexander was born in 1967.
of the Netherlands' once far-flung empire were granted either full independence
or nearly complete autonomy after World War II. Indonesia formally gained its
independence in 1949, and Suriname became independent in 1975. The five islands
of the Netherlands Antilles (Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, and a part
of St. Maarten) and Aruba are integral parts of the Netherlands realm but enjoy
a large degree of autonomy.
AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The present constitution--which dates from 1848
and has been amended several times, most recently in 1983--protects individual
and political freedoms, including freedom of religion. Although church and state
are separate, a few historical ties remain; the royal family belongs to the Dutch
Reformed Church (Protestant). Freedom of speech also is protected.
The country's government is based on the principles of ministerial
responsibility and parliamentary government. The national government comprises
three main institutions: the Monarch, the Council of Ministers, and the States
General. There also are local governments.
Monarch. The monarch is the titular head of state. The Queen's function is
largely ceremonial, but she does have some influence deriving from the traditional
veneration of the House of Orange, from which Dutch monarchs for more than three
centuries have descended. Her influence also derives from her personal qualities
as Queen and her power to appoint the "formateur," who forms the Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers
plans and implements government policy. The Monarch and the Council of Ministers
together are called the Crown. Most ministers also head government ministries,
although ministers-without-portfolio exist. The ministers, collectively and individually,
are responsible to the States General (parliament). Unlike the British system,
Dutch ministers cannot simultaneously be members of parliament.
Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body to the government
that consists of members of the royal family and Crown-appointed members generally
having political, commercial, diplomatic, or military experience. The Council
of State must be consulted by the cabinet on proposed legislation before a law
is submitted to the parliament. The Council of State also serves as a channel
of appeal for citizens against executive branch decisions.
General (parliament). The Dutch parliament consists of two houses, the First
Chamber and the Second Chamber. Historically, Dutch governments have been based
on the support of a majority in both houses of parliament. The Second Chamber
is by far the more important of the two houses. It alone has the right to initiate
legislation and amend bills submitted by the Council of Ministers. It shares with
the First Chamber the right to question ministers and state secretaries.
Second Chamber consists of 150 members, elected directly for a 4-year term--unless
the government falls prematurely--on the basis of a nationwide system of proportional
representation. This system means that members represent the whole country--rather
than individual districts as in the United States--and are normally elected on
a party slate, not on a personal basis. There is no threshold for small-party
representation. Campaigns are relatively short, lasting usually about a month,
and the election budgets of each party tend to be less than $1 million. The electoral
system makes a coalition government almost inevitable. The last election of the
Second Chamber was in November 2006.
First Chamber is composed of 75 members elected for 4-year terms by the 12 provincial
legislatures. It cannot initiate or amend legislation, but its approval of bills
passed by the Second Chamber is required before bills become law. The First Chamber
generally meets only once a week, and its members usually have other full-time
jobs. The current First Chamber was elected following provincial elections in
Courts. The judiciary comprises
62 cantonal courts, 19 district courts, five courts of appeal, and a Supreme Court
that has 24 justices. All judicial appointments are made by the Crown. Judges
nominally are appointed for life but actually are retired at age 70.
Government. The first-level administrative divisions are the 12 provinces,
each governed by a locally elected provincial council and a provincial executive
appointed by members of the provincial council. The province is formally headed
by a queen's commissioner appointed by the Crown.
Government. General elections were held in November 2006. The previous government
of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDA) and conservative Liberals (VVD)
under CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has caretaker status and stays until
the next government is formed, which foreseeably will happen in early 2007. Given
the consensus-based nature of the Dutch Government, elections do not usually result
in any drastic change in foreign or domestic policy. Descriptions of the four
main parties follow.
The Christian Democratic
Appeal (CDA) was formed from the merger of the Catholic People's Party and two
Protestant parties, the Anti-Revolutionary Party and the Christian-Historical
Union. The merger process, begun in the early 1970s to try to stem the tide of
losses suffered by religiously based parties, was completed in 1980. The CDA supports
free enterprise and holds to the principle that government activity should supplement
but not supplant communal action by citizens. On the political spectrum, the CDA
sees its philosophy as standing between the "individualism" of the Liberals and
the "statism" of the Labor Party. CDA has 41 seats in the current Second Chamber,
more than any other party.
Party (PvdA), a classic European Social Democratic party, is left of center. It
currently has 33 seats in the Second Chamber. Labor's program is based on greater
social, political, and economic equality for all citizens, although in recent
years the party has begun to debate the role of central government in that process.
Although called the Labor Party, it has no formal links to the trade unions.
Liberal (VVD) Party is "liberal" in the European, rather than American, sense
of the word. It thus attaches great importance to private enterprise and the freedom
of the individual in political, social, and economic affairs. The VVD is generally
seen as the most conservative of the major parties. It currently has 22 seats
in the Second Chamber.
Party (SP) was founded as a grass root Marxist-Leninist movement in 1972. From
the start Jan Maijnissen has been the driving force behind the party. Started
at the local level, Marijnissen transformed the party into a working-class leftist
alternative to the Labor Party and succeeded at being elected to parliament in
1994. At every subsequent election the party grew and in November 2006 it obtained
25 seats, which made it the third largest party. The party is fundamentally nationalistic
and opposes globalization, the European Union and Dutch participation in international
peacekeeping. It also favors cutting defense spending by 40%.
Despite intensified efforts by the Dutch Government to combat
production of and trafficking in narcotic drugs, the Netherlands continues to
be a significant transit point for drugs entering Europe (especially cocaine),
an important producer and exporter of synthetic drugs, notably MDMA (Ecstasy),
although MDMA production seems to be declining substantially. According to the
National Police, three large seizures caused the number of ecstasy tablets seized
in the U.S. that could be linked to the Netherlands to rise to 0.85 million in
2005 from 0.2 million in 2004. 2005 MDMA seizures are still down from the 1.1
million tablets seized in 2003 and 2.5 million in 2002. The successful five-year
strategy (2002-2006) against production, trade and consumption of synthetic drugs
will be reviewed at the end of 2006, and a new long-term plan will be published
in early 2007.
The Dutch Opium Act punishes
possession, commercial distribution, production, import, and export of all illicit
drugs. Drug use, however, is not an offense. The act distinguishes between "hard"
drugs that have "unacceptable" risks (e.g., heroin, cocaine, ecstasy) and "soft"
drugs (cannabis products). One of the main aims of this policy is to separate
the markets for soft and hard drugs so that soft drug users are less likely to
come into contact with hard drugs. The sale of a small quantity (under five grams)
of soft drugs in "coffeeshops" is tolerated, albeit under strict conditions and
controls. The United States continues to disagree with this aspect of Dutch drug
policy. Overall, the Health Ministry coordinates drug policy, while the Ministry
of Justice is responsible for law enforcement. Matters relating to local government
and the police are the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. At the municipal
level, policy is coordinated in tripartite consultations among the mayor, the
chief public prosecutor, and the police.
Netherlands has a wide variety of demand-reduction and "harm"-reduction programs
reaching about 80% of the country's 26,000-30,000 opiate addicts. The number of
opiate addicts has stabilized over the past few years, with the average age rising
to 40, and the number of overdose deaths related to opiates stabilizing at between
30 and 50 per year.
The Netherlands supports the global coalition against terrorism
with leadership, personnel and material, including the deployment of troops to
Iraq and Afghanistan. The Prime Minister stated the U.S. and his country stand
"shoulder to shoulder" in the struggle for global security. The Netherlands is
a party to all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions.
August 2004, the Act on Terrorist Crimes, implementing the 2002 EU framework decision
on combating terrorism, became effective. The Act makes recruitment for the Jihad
and conspiracy with the aim of committing a serious terrorist crime separate criminal
offenses. In 2006, three packages of counterterrorism legislation were adopted
by Parliament, namely a bill to permit the use of intelligence information in
criminal proceedings, a bill to expand the use of special investigative methods,
such as phone taps, surveillance and infiltration, in investigations and prosecutions
of terrorist crimes, and a bill to ban organizations on the UN or EU terror lists,
In 2006, there were successful trials against two terror groups leading to major
convictions. In 2004, the government created a National Counterterrorism Coordinator's
Office to streamline and enhance Dutch counterterrorism efforts. The Dutch have
taken a leading role, particularly in the European Union, to establish financial
protocols to combat terrorism. They have also donated to the IMF to provide assistance
to countries that lack the wherewithal to implement some of these measures immediately.
They have taken steps to freeze the assets of individuals and groups included
on the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee's consolidated list. In March 2006, the
Dutch hosted a major international terrorist financing conference.
Netherlands is an active participant in the Container Security Initiative at Rotterdam,
one of Europe's busiest ports. The Dutch have also installed radiological portal
monitors at Rotterdam, in partnership with the Department of Energy's Megaport/Second
Line of Defense initiative. The government also permitted U.S. CBP Immigration
Liaison Officers to return to Schiphol Airport to assist with US-bound passenger
screening (the program is now known as the Immigration Assistance Program). In
January 2005, the U.S and Netherlands agreed to develop an International Registered
Travelers program to facilitate travel between Schiphol Airport and JFK.
Head of State--Queen Beatrix
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance--Gerrit Zalm
Foreign Minister--Ben Bot
Defense Minister--Henk Kamp
the United States--Christiaan Kröner
Ambassador to the United Nations--Frank
The Netherlands' embassy in the U.S. is at
4200 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel: 202-244-5300;
After a strong performance in the 1990s, which brought unemployment to below
3%, the Dutch economy struggled through 2002 and 2003, plagued by relatively high
costs and weak domestic demand. Real GDP growth recovered to 2.0% in 2004, but
fell back slightly in 2005 to 1.5% largely due to lagging corporate investment
and decreased government consumption. The economy is expected to grow by 3.0%
in both 2006 and 2007. Export growth slowed to an estimated 6.8% in 2005, after
a 2004 rebound of 9.8%, and is expected to stay strong through 2006 and 2007.
Private consumption increased only marginally
in 2005, partly because of a persistently high unemployment rate but also because
of an overall decrease in net disposable national income. With unemployment expected
to go down to 5.5 percent this year, private consumption is also forecasted to
increase by 2.25% in 2006. After a drop in the early 2000's, investment staged
a recovery in 2005, with gross corporate investment increasing by 3.1% in 2005
and an expected 4.25% in 2006.
years, many firms in the Netherlands cited a loss of competitiveness as a major
impediment to growth as unit labor costs outpaced those of their major competitors,
including within the euro area. Low wage rises in 2004 and 2005 enabled firms
to regain some lost ground. With many collective wage agreements signed when strong
growth was not yet apparent, the 2006 growth level has not yet put upward pressure
on overall wages, but wages are expected to go up in 2007 as the collective agreements
come up for renegotiation. Inflation dropped to 1.2% in 2004, but increased to
1.7% in 2005. For 2006, it is again expected to drop to 1%, with projections suggesting
it will return to 1.25% in 2007.
Netherlands was one of the first EU member states to qualify for the Economic
and Monetary Union (EMU). Its fiscal policy has sought to strike a balance between
further reductions in public spending and lower taxes and social security contributions.
After an unexpected sharp economic downturn in 2003 caused the nominal deficit
to breach the 3% GDP limit set by the EMU's Growth and Stability Pact, the center-right
coalition government agreed to a package of spending cuts, which helped to lower
the budget deficit to 1.8% of GDP in 2004 and further to 0.3% in 2005. For 2006,
the deficit is likely to turn into a surplus of up to 0.4%.
Although the private sector is the cornerstone of the economy, the
Netherlands has an important and vibrant public sector. The government plays a
significant role through permit requirements and regulations pertaining to almost
every aspect of economic activity. The government combines a rigorous and stable
microeconomic policy with wide-ranging structural and regulatory reforms. The
government has gradually reduced its role in the economy since the 1980s, and
privatization and deregulation continue unabated.
The Netherlands, which derives more than two-thirds of
GDP from merchandise and services trade, continued to have a strongly positive
balance of goods and services trade for 2005 of $42.2 billion--close to 7.7% of
GDP, the main contributor to a current account surplus of close to 8.8% of GDP.
Since there are no significant trade or investment barriers, the Netherlands remains
a receptive market for U.S. exports and an important investment partner. The Netherlands
is the eighth-largest U.S. export market, as well as the third-largest direct
investor in the United States. Dutch accumulated direct investment in the United
States in 2005 was $171 billion. The United States is the largest investor in
the Netherlands with direct investment of $181 billion. There are more than 1,600
U.S. companies with subsidiaries or offices in the Netherlands. The Dutch are
strong proponents of free trade and the staunchest allies of the U.S. in international
fora such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the OECD.
of the Economy
Services account for almost three quarters of the national
income and are primarily in transportation, distribution, logistics, and financial
areas, such as banking and insurance. Industrial activity generates about a fourth
of the national product and is dominated by the metalworking, oil refining, chemical,
and food processing industries. The agriculture and fisheries sector and traditional
Dutch activities account for some 2% of GDP.
Dutch crude oil production is small, the Netherlands is a relatively large producer
and distributor of natural gas. The Slochteren gas fields in Groningen Province
in the north are among the world's larger producing natural gas fields. Total
proven reserves of natural gas situated on the mainland currently amount to about
2 trillion cubic meters. Roughly 80% is accounted for by reserves on the mainland,
the remaining 20% accounted for by relatively small deposits on the North Sea
continental shelf. Current gas production is running at an annual average of around
75 billion cubic meters, roughly half of which is exported to EU member countries.
is a small and densely populated country. Its economy depends on industry, particularly
chemicals and metal processing, intensive agriculture and horticulture, and on
its infrastructure, which takes advantage of the country's geographical position
at the heart of Europe's transportation network. These factors have led to major
pressure on the environment.
Environmental Policy Plan (NMP) sets out Dutch environmental policy. Under NMP-4,
published in 2001, the government seeks to cut back on all forms of pollution
by 80%-90% within one generation, meaning that by 2010, the present generation
should be able to pass on a clean environment to the next one.
the environmental quality in the Netherlands has improved significantly, some
important targets, particularly with respect to nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions,
climate change, and noise reduction, will be difficult to reach.
Dutch Government works closely with industry and nongovernmental organizations
to reach environmental targets. In order to meet the Kyoto target of reducing
greenhouse gas emissions by 6% in the 2008-2012 period from 1990 levels, the government
reached an agreement with industry and the energy sector on emission rights trading.
In May 2006, the government told parliament it had sufficient confidence the Kyoto
targets would be reached provided planned additional measures are implemented.
Netherlands abandoned a long-standing policy of neutrality after World War II.
The Dutch are engaged participants in international affairs. Dutch foreign policy
is geared to promoting a wide variety of goals: the rule of law, human rights,
and democracy. Priority is given to enhancing European integration, ensuring European
security and stability (mainly through the mechanism of NATO and by emphasizing
the important role the United States plays in the security of Europe), and participating
in conflict management and peacekeeping missions.
Netherlands generally pursues its foreign policy interests within the framework
of multilateral organizations. The Netherlands is an active and responsible participant
in the United Nations as well as other multilateral organizations such as NATO,
the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council
of Europe (CoE), the OECD, the WTO, and the International Monetary Fund. A centuries-old
tradition of legal scholarship has made the Netherlands the home of the International
Court of Justice; the Yugoslavia and Rwanda War Crimes Tribunals; the European
judicial and police organizations Eurojust and Europol; the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; and International Criminal Court. Dutch security
policy is based primarily on membership in NATO, which the Netherlands joined
as a charter member in 1949.
The Dutch have
traditionally been strong advocates of European integration, and most aspects
of their foreign, economic, and trade policies are coordinated through the European
Union. However, Dutch voters rejected the EU constitutional treaty in June 2005.
Along with other EU members, the Netherlands is debating the future role of the
The Netherlands' post-war Customs Union
with Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux group) paved the way for the formation
of the European Community (precursor to the EU). Likewise, the Benelux abolition
of internal border controls was a model for the wider Schengen accord, which today
has 15 European signatories, including the Netherlands, pledged to common visa
policies and free movement of people and goods across common borders.
The Dutch were key proponents of the 1992
Maastricht Treaty and were the architects of the 1998 Treaty of Amsterdam. They
have embraced the introduction of new member states and the common currency (euro).
In recent years, however, the Dutch have become increasingly skeptical of the
way the EU is run and of any further enlargements.
The Netherlands is among the world's leading aid donors, giving about
0.8% of its gross national product (about $5.6 billion in 2005) annually in development
assistance, a ratio maintained as a firm policy target. The Dutch thus rank as
the sixth largest donor nation in dollar terms and the fifth most generous relative
to GNP. The country consistently contributes large amounts of aid through multilateral
channels, especially the UN Development Program, the international financial institutions,
and EU programs. A portion of Dutch aid funds also are channeled through private
("cofinancing") organizations that have almost total autonomy in choice of projects.
Minister for Development Cooperation Agnes van Ardenne oversees the aid portfolio.
Dutch development strategy is anchored in
the Millennium Development Goals and as such focuses on poverty reduction. The
priority programmatic areas for Dutch assistance are education, the environment
and water, AIDS, and reproductive health care.
2004, the Netherlands introduced a new, more focused development aid strategy,
under which a number of smaller aid programs in wealthier developing countries
were phased out. The number of countries in which the Dutch operate bilateral
assistance programs was thus cut from 49 to 36, and the number of sectors in which
the Dutch will be active in each country was limited to two to three. Roughly
half of Dutch aid is earmarked for Africa. In addition, the Dutch introduced a
new policy instrument, the Stability Fund, which pushes the bounds of traditional
development assistance by funding programs and activities, such as police training,
that aim to create a security environment in which development can proceed. The
Stability Fund, managed jointly by the Minister for Development Cooperation and
the Minister for Foreign Affairs, spent $109 million in 2005.
Dutch are the top donor of unearmarked assistance to UN humanitarian programs.
For Afghanistan, the Netherlands spent $66 million on reconstruction in 2005,
of which $33 million went to the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), $10
million was spent on the elections, almost $7 million on the fight against drugs,
and an additional $8 million on humanitarian relief. For 2006, the Dutch contribution
will come out between $73 and $80 million, of which $53 million will go to ARTF
and $12 million towards humanitarian relief. For 2007-09, the Dutch have pledged
$132 million. For Iraq, the Dutch have pledged $36 million in humanitarian and
reconstruction assistance since March of 2003. In January 2006, the Netherlands
signed a bilateral agreement with the Government of Iraq, canceling an amount
of over $300 million in Iraqi debt, as part of an effort by the Paris Club to
provide debt relief to Iraq.
to the Asian Tsunami, the Dutch contributed $53 million in humanitarian relief
and have promised $264 million over the next five years for reconstruction efforts
in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In 2006, they pledged an additional $86 million for
the reconstruction of Aceh and Nias, of which $77 million to the Multi Donor Fund
(MDF). The Netherlands has traditionally been a strong supporter of programs to
help Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The Balkans are another major recipient
of Dutch assistance. The Dutch fund programs in Bosnia and Macedonia in the areas
of education, good governance, and economic reform.
their commitment to ODA, the Dutch also champion the role of trade and private
enterprise for their contributions to development. In recent years, the government
has devised new programs to support private sector development in developing countries.
In August 2006, the Center for Global
Development, in conjunction with Foreign Policy magazine and the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, ranked the Netherlands number two in the world
for its government's policies in support of development.
The Dutch work closely with the United States
and other countries on international programs against drug trafficking and organized
crime. In July 2005, the two nations signed an agreement to expand information
sharing and cooperative research on demand reduction. There is close Dutch-U.S.
cooperation on joint counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean. The Netherlands
actively participates in DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). The 10-year
Forward Operation Locations agreement between the U.S. and the Kingdom for the
establishment of forward operating locations on Aruba and Curacao became effective
in October 2001. The Netherlands is a signatory to international counternarcotics
agreements, a member of the UN ODC, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the 1990
Strasbourg Convention on Money Laundering and Confiscation, and is a major contributor
to international counternarcotics projects.
The U.S. partnership with the Netherlands is one of its oldest
continuous relationships and dates back to the American Revolution. The excellent
bilateral relations are based on close historical and cultural ties as well as
a common dedication to individual freedom and human rights. The Netherlands shares
with the United States a liberal economic outlook and is firmly committed to free
trade. The United States attaches great value to its strong economic and commercial
ties with the Dutch. The Netherlands is the third-largest direct foreign investor
in the United States, and the United States is the third-largest direct foreign
investor in the Netherlands.
States and the Netherlands often have similar positions on issues and work together
both bilaterally and multilaterally in such institutions as the United Nations
and NATO. The Dutch have worked with the United States at the WTO, in the OECD,
as well as within the EU to advance the shared U.S. goal of a more open, honest,
and market-led global economy. The Dutch, like the United States, supported the
accession of 10 new members to the EU in 2004, and accession negotiations for
Turkey in 2005.
The United States and the
Netherlands joined NATO as charter members in 1949. The Dutch fought alongside
the United States in the Korean War and the first Gulf War and have been active
in global peacekeeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Netherlands played a leading role in the 1999 Kosovo air campaign. They currently
are contributing to EU peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. In the initial phase of
the recent Iraq conflict, the Dutch deployed Patriot missiles to protect NATO
ally Turkey, and sent a battalion of troops to Iraq to participate in stabilization
operations. The Dutch also support and participate in NATO and EU training efforts
in Iraq. They are active participants in the International Security Assistance
Force and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Roland E. Arnall
Chief of Mission--Chat E. Blakeman
Political Counselor--Andrew J. Schofer
and Integration Counselor--Karen Enstrom
Global Affairs Officer--Susan P. Garro
Public Affairs Counselor--Gary P. Keith
Counselor--Sarah A. Solberg
Regional Security Officer--Roberto C. Bernardo
Attache--Devon G. Goldsmith
Office of Defense Cooperation--Col. David Kelly
Officer--Sheryl A. Maas
Agriculture Counselor--Roger A. Wentzel
Amsterdam--Marjorie A. Ames
Embassy is located at Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ The Hague; tel: 31-70-310-2209;
fax: 31-70-361-4688. The Consulate General is at Museumplein 19, 1071 DJ Amsterdam;
tel: 31-20-575-5309; fax: 31-20-575-5310.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department
of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information, including Background Notes and
daily press briefings
along with the directory of key officers
of Foreign Service posts and more.
provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
with the export process, and more.
a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic,
business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The
site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market
research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the
National Trade Data Bank.