Security and Defence
The radically changed security landscape in Europe forced a paradigm shift in Sweden’s security and foreign policy. The application of NATO membership is at the top of the agenda for the upcoming year and will significantly influence Swedish foreign policy decisions. The Netherlands wholeheartedly supports Sweden’s NATO accession and focuses on intensifying relations on defence and security.
European Defence Fund
Companies, knowledge institutions and universities from the Netherlands and Sweden work together to develop research and innovation projects within the defence industry. These efforts are financed through the European Defence Fund, a program commissioned by the European Commission.
In March 2022, this embassy gathered one hundred guests from leading positions within the Dutch and Swedish defence industry. A unique opportunity to discuss collaboration within defence research and innovation. Matchmaking sessions allowed defence companies to find partners to build consortia within the European Defence Fund. Read more about this event.
Both the Dutch and Swedish governments underline the importance of boosting security and defense and increase spending further. Sweden has now committed itself to raising defense spending to 2% by 2026 at the latest.
The Netherlands has also committed itself to reach the 2%-norm. Where Sweden is working on the new national security strategy and has established a national security council, the Netherlands’ first national security council meeting took place last November. The council, chaired by prime-minister Mark Rutte, focused on economic security and resilience. In general, both countries have placed countering hybrid threats and strengthening economic resilience at the top of their agenda’s.
In this changed security landscape, with accelerated technological developments, the threat of terrorism and a rise in hybrid conflicts, close bilateral and European cooperation is essential. The Netherlands and Sweden work together closely on a number of very important areas.
Bilateral defense cooperation between Sweden and the Netherlands is multi-faceted. Sweden is a significant partner in the area of Defense cooperation. The Statement of Intent that was signed on the 11 October 2022, underlines the importance of the bilateral defence cooperation and the possibilities to deepen and broaden the cooperation in many fields.
The Netherlands supports Sweden’s application to NATO and was one of the first countries to formally ratify the application for membership in parliament. The Netherlands and Sweden have worked closely together in the past during missions, both on bilateral basis, with for example the Military Bloodbank in Mali, and within EU (anti-piracy) and UN-framework (MINUSMA in Mali).
Moreover, The Netherlands provides 1 staff-officer to the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations (NCGM). The NCGM is located at the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre (SWEDINT).
The process of digital transformation has led to an increase in cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware, data breaches and misinformation. The Netherlands is ranked as one of the most powerful cyberspace countries in the world. The city of The Hague is an important hub for cybersecurity in Europe, hosting Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, NATO’s Communication & Information Agency and a plethora of cyber security companies.
Our embassy works closely together with organizations such as Innovation Quarter, dCypher and Security Delta (HSD) in The Hague. Together they represent a security cluster that connects over 275 companies, governmental organizations and knowledge institutions. This not only opens doors for Dutch companies and startups, but also provides opportunities for Swedish cybersecurity companies to gain a foothold in the Netherlands. An example of a Swedish company that has been affiliated with HSD for years is Sectra.
The Netherlands embassy has arranged several activities to promote Dutch expertise in secure digitalization in Sweden, including a first trade mission in November 2022. We will continue to execute activities to enable Dutch cyber experts to explore opportunities in the Swedish market and to help establish contacts between Swedish stakeholders and the Dutch cyber security cluster.
Rapidly evolving hybrid threats are a challenge to security in Europe. Like other EU-member states, the Netherlands and Sweden respond to hybrid threats by enhancing our resilience and detecting, preventing and responding to the threats. We hold regular bilateral consultations and share best practices. We cooperate to protect critical infrastructure, tackle disinformation and secure our democratic processes.