Consortium Leader: The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Consortium Member: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Subcontractor: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)

Strategic Alert on Quantum Technology and Biotechnology

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 11/24/2021 - 10:45

Quantum technology and biotechnology are key emerging technologies that are having a growing impact on security and defense. How can the Netherlands and the EU leverage these emerging technologies in efforts to strengthen (inter)national security? What potential challenges do these crucial technologies pose to the Netherlands?

The strategic alert addresses these questions and concludes with the following key takeaways:

  • Quantum computing technology will be able to break current (asymmetric) encryption standards and facilitate cyber-attacks.
  • The Netherlands should invest in cooperation at the European level on quantum technology development to strengthen the entire European quantum value chain.
  • The Netherlands should prepare for the next pandemic by making clear and early arrangements (preferable at the EU level) on the development of vaccines and therapeutics.
  • Centrally coordinating biotechnology research would allow the Netherlands to play a more prominent role in the field.
  • The Netherlands should factor the possible negative consequences of genetic modification on fragile ecosystems into its planning processes.
  • The Netherlands should invest in research into possible applications of biotechnology for creating and improving renewable energy sources.
  • The Netherlands should monitor potential dependencies vis-à-vis other nations for both technologies and should prioritize maintaining control over those elements that are vital with regards to developing strategic autonomy.


Carolina van Weerd, Research Consultant at TNO
Deborah Lassche, Researcher and Consultant Defence, Safety and Security at TNO

About this Strategic Alert:
Every year, at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Defence and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clingendael and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) publish the Strategic Monitor. Part of this Strategic Monitor are several Strategic Alerts. This year’s alert, written by Carolina van Weerd and Deborah Lassche of TNO, highlights Quantum Technology and biotechnology, explaining their developments and assessing their possible impact on national security.

The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.


Red Lines & Baselines

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 10:02

Towards a European Multistakeholder Approach to Counter Disinformation

Disinformation continues to exacerbate existing political polarizations with effects ranging from discrediting measures against the COVID-19 pandemic to inciting mass violence against the very institutions of democracy itself.

Governments, industry and civil society are struggling to find effective ways to respond to this challenge. Disinformation is a field that lacks consensus for a common unilateral solution due to its enormously complex nature, the wide range of actors involved, and the dilemmas it presents across many issues, such as security and human rights.

Nonetheless, ‘rules of the road’ are needed. Given the relative success that cyber norms have had in establishing a common standard of acceptable behavior, this report asks what kind of international norms can be developed to counter disinformation. And finally, how can these norms be advanced?

This report addresses these questions by proposing:

  • a government-to-government “big N Norm” proposal based on noninterference and covert election interference
  • a European industry charter of “small n norms” or standards for social media platforms
  • a European coregulation model to guide the development of these standards from formulation to implementation
  • a Disinformation Sharing and Analysis Center (DISINFO-ISAC) at the European level to operationalize the coregulation model and facilitate threat information sharing and capacity building among social media platforms, and with governments and civil society.

These proposals come at a time when the European self-regulatory approach towards social media companies’ responsibility is shifting towards coregulation. They would therefore inform and strengthen the European Democracy Action Plan and contribute towards a much-needed community of trust in countering disinformation.

The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed, rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Cover image adapted from 7CO’s “Kundgebung (3) Protest against corona measures” and licensed under CS BY 2.0. Some rights reserved.


  • Louk Faesen, Strategic Analyst at the Cyber Policy and Resilience Program of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
  • Alexander Klimburg, Director of the Cyber Policy and Resilience Program at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and director of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace Initiative and Secretariat
  • Simon van Hoeve, Assistant Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
  • Tim Sweijs, Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Taming Techno-Nationalism: A Policy Agenda

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 10/07/2021 - 11:41

As recognition of the economic, military, and strategic relevance of access to and control over the distribution of modern technologies has grown, so, too, has the prevalence of the sentiment that a nation’s technological innovation and capabilities are directly linked to its national security, economic prosperity, and social stability.

This is creating incentives for states to treat access to sensitive technologies as a zero-sum game and to pursue policies to expand national control over and international influence through sensitive technologies. The “geopoliticization” of sensitive technologies – even those which, on first sight, appear banal and/or consumer-focused in nature – are on clear display in debates surrounding European telecom providers’ use of Huawei technologies within their 5G networks, fresh discussions regarding Johnson & Johnson’s purchase of Crucell, and the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) response to NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of ARM.

Sensitive technologies are, in other words, growing to be more and more closely associated with “European strategic autonomy,” the notion that European Member States should be able to make consequential decisions without being constrained by their relationships with countries like the US or China.

But how do techno-nationalists operate, what can the Netherlands do to protect its sizeable R&D infrastructure from their advances, and to what degree should The Hague look to Brussels for guidance and support?

In collaboration with the Egmont Institute’s Tobias Gehrke, Hugo van Manen, Jack Thompson, and Tim Sweijs outline a policy agenda for countering techno-nationalism in HCSS’ most recent publication; Taming Techno-Nationalism: A Policy Agenda, commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense. The high-level recommendations are as follows:

  • Strengthen critical infrastructure protections.
  • Make strategic use of public spending.
  • Incentivize increased private spending.
  • Develop a more comprehensive deterrence posture.
  • Recognize the relevance of EU-level cooperation.


Hugo van Manen, Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Tobias Gehrke, Research Fellow in the Europe in the World Programme at the Egmont Institute
Jack Thompson, Senior Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Tim Sweijs, Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Rob de Wijk, Founder of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Benedetta Girardi, Assistant Analyst at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Sneha Mahapatra, Assistant Analyst at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


The future of European intelligence cooperation

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 09/23/2021 - 14:33

Sharing the burden, sharing the secrets

This report discusses the opportunities for enhanced European intelligence cooperation in light of the key challenges facing Europe over the next ten years, as were identified in the Strategic Monitor 2020-2021, Geopolitical Genesis: Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World. In light of these challenges and the need to realise European strategic autonomy and deliver on the goals of the EU Strategic Compass for security and defence, closer intelligence and security cooperation by Europe is required.

However, intelligence activities lie at the very heart of national sovereignty, and can perhaps be considered to be the hardest hurdle to cross. Nevertheless, over the years the EU has developed several institutions to facilitate intelligence sharing between its member states and several agencies have been established that collect, analyse and operationalise intelligence in view of the key security challenges.

Within this institutional context, this report assesses the opportunities for enhanced European intelligence cooperation. It argues that there is ample opportunity to increase both the scope and depth of European intelligence cooperation in the years to come. Moreover, the Netherlands can and indeed should play an active role in the development of enhanced intelligence cooperation in and of Europe by making effective use of the presence of three important factors that can help drive European cooperation further: internal demand, external pressure and cooperative momentum.


Danny Pronk, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute
Claire Korteweg, former research intern at the Clingendael Institute


Towards a Space Security Strategy

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 03/31/2021 - 13:59

The world is entering a new and highly consequential phase of the Space Age.

This brings with it many threats and opportunities. The Netherlands boasts a productive and innovative space industry. Globally, launch costs have been reduced dramatically. Yet this democratization of space access also brings with it many challenges. Increased access means increased congestion, risk of collisions, space debris and a growing dependence by the Netherlands on space-based infrastructure.

The extra-terrestrial realm contains vast quantities of raw materials which bring the prospect of enormous economic gains. The increasing number of actors operating in space raises the scope for geopolitical competition. This in turn has led major powers to begin militarizing and weaponizing space in support of terrestrial warfighting capabilities on Earth, while moving towards the establishment of extra-terrestrial footholds.

Our new Strategic Alert delves into the challenges and opportunities of the Space Age and how the Netherlands, and the world, should deal with them.

Authors: Hugo van Manen, Tim Sweijs, Patrick Bolder, with contributions from Jens Emmers and Benedetta Girardi.


Strategic Monitor 2020-2021

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 14:53

Geopolitical Genesis 

Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World

Onderzoekers Danny Pronk en Jack Thompson van Instituut Clingendael en het Den Haag Centrum voor Strategische Studies (HCSS) overhandigden vandaag de Strategische Monitor “Geopolitical Genesis: Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World” aan de minister van Defensie, Ank Bijleveld.

Met hun jaarlijkse rapport geven de beide denktanks inzicht in de trends en ontwikkelingen in de wereldpolitiek. Het belangrijkste thema van dit rapport is dat dit hét moment is voor de Europese Unie om zijn status als ontluikende wereldmacht te verstevigen en dat Nederland hierbij een actieve rol moet vervullen.

Er komt geen “return to normal” van de trans-Atlantische betrekkingen, ook niet onder President Biden, zo stellen de onderzoekers. Europa zal meer verantwoordelijkheid moeten nemen voor haar eigen defensie en een onafhankelijk buitenlands beleid moeten voeren. Nederland kan hier een overbruggende rol spelen, maar dat vraagt om meer Europese samenwerking. Dit is nodig om de invloed van een relatief klein land als Nederland te kunnen vergroten, maar ook om één vuist te kunnen vormen tegen de verdeel- en heerstactieken van China. Terwijl China een belangrijke economische partner blijft, is het nodig om met een verenigd Europees antwoord te komen op de steeds agressievere houding van zowel China als Rusland.

De Strategische Monitor geeft aanbevelingen voor het Nederlandse buitenland- en veiligheidsbeleid om deze gevarieerde uitdagingen het hoofd te bieden.

  1. Een meer assertieve geopolitieke opstelling om de Nederlandse én Europese belangen en waarden te beschermen.
  2. Een meer assertieve en vooral uniforme houding ten opzichte van China.
  3. Een meer uitgekiende en ook in dit geval een uniforme benadering voor de omgang met Rusland.
  4. Nederland moet vanwege de historisch nauwe banden met de VS ernaar streven een trans-Atlantische brugfunctie te vervullen op specifieke beleidsterreinen. Ook moet het binnen de NAVO streven naar een gelijkwaardiger lastenverdeling met de VS en meer doen om de vrede en veiligheid in de eigen regio te bevorderen.
  5. Nederland moet strategisch samenwerken met andere belangrijke middenmachten, zowel op het gebied van handel als veiligheid.
  6. De ontwikkeling van een aanpak is nodig voor de omgang met niet-statelijke actoren. Daarin wordt een effectief engagement gekoppeld aan ontmoediging van de onvermijdelijke keerzijden van samenwerking met niet-statelijke actoren die uit eigenbelang handelen. Als laatste, en misschien wel belangrijkste, moet Nederland voortvarend de samenwerking aangaan met andere actoren om de gevolgen van de wereldwijde klimaatverandering aan te pakken.

Deze aanbevelingen zijn niet uitputtend maar bieden een globale blauwdruk voor het toekomstige Nederlandse buitenland- en veiligheidsbeleid, zowel om de status van de EU als ontluikende wereldmacht te helpen verstevigen als om de complexe uitdagingen van nu en de komende tien jaar doeltreffend te kunnen aanpakken. Vanuit het gezichtspunt van dit rapport is dat onontbeerlijk in de geopolitieke genesis van Nederland, aldus de onderzoekers.

Download de Monitor 2020-2021.



Danny Pronk (Research Fellow, Instituut Clingendael)

Jack Thompson  (Den Haag Centrum voor Strategische Studies (HCSS))


Flow security in the information age

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/08/2020 - 13:04

In a hyper-connected world, the ability to influence or control flows is key to new coercive strategies. This HCSS report aims to contribute to a better and more detailed understanding of the notion of flow security and of the policy options for both the Netherlands and Europe to effectively contribute to flow security to protect vital interests and values. 

This report considers three cases – each from a different perspective:

  1. 5G Networks and Standards from an economic angle.
  2. The continuous development of the F35 fighter plane from a military perspective.
  3. Entanglements in the financial system through an institutional lens.

Read report


Frank Bekkers (Security Program Director, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies) 

Paul Verhagen (Data Scientist, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies)

Flow Security Report

Sino-Russian relations in Central Asia: Multi-dimensional chess

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/01/2020 - 14:07

Are Sino-Russian relations as robust as they are claimed to be? Is it really a stable ‘strategic partnership’ or might there also be critical underlying tensions at play that could potentially spell “trouble in paradise”?

Globally, there are currently three prominent regions – East Asia, the Arctic and Central Asia, – where Chinese and Russian geopolitical interests intersect, leading to cooperation and the establishment of ‘strategic partnerships’ but also creating the potential for competition and conflict. Of those prominent regions, both actors consider Central Asia to be their strategic backyard. It is relevant to assess the different dimensions of their relationship in the region. Looking at Central Asia could potentially tell us something about the trajectory of the Sino-Russian relationship at a global level. This strategic alert includes key takeaways with suggestions for optimizing future EU involvement.

Read Strategic Alert


Goos Hofstee (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Noor Broeders (Intern, the Clingendael Institute)


Sentinel of the Caribbean: US Foreign Policy towards Venezuela

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 07/16/2020 - 16:03

Even though US foreign policy primarily affects Venezuela itself, the impact is also felt in neighbouring countries. Amidst the continuation of the Venezuelan crisis, the US government has further tightened its harsh stance towards the country, aggravating existing implications of the crisis and thereby also the spillover effects in the region. This includes the Dutch Caribbean islands, in particular Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, which find themselves in close (geographical) proximity to Venezuela. Consequently, the question arises how US foreign policy towards Venezuela can threaten and potentially undermine the security interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and, subsequently, how the Netherlands should deal with that.

To provide an answer to this question, this strategic alert will address the following issues. Firstly, we will provide historical background information on the Venezuelan crisis and US-Venezuela relations. Next, we will elaborate on the current US foreign policy towards Venezuela. The subsequent section will then delve deeper into the topic, by outlining the political, economic and humanitarian impact of American foreign policy and by explaining which security interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands are most affected. The alert will conclude with a summary and several recommendations.

Read the strategic alert.

The authors

Adája Stoetman (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

Anna Zeverijn (Research Intern at the Clingendael Institute)

President Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan American Community / Wikimedia Common


Submitted by Inge on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 14:47

Satellites, Space Exploration, and the Netherlands' National Security

The economic relevance of space is substantive and growing. Currently, space’s value is primarily derived from satellites orbiting Earth. A 2019 study found that 87.5% of the $277bn in revenues generated in space could be attributed to commercial satellite services. These services are of critical importance to the functioning of the (inter)national economy. Positioning, timing, and navigation (PNT), communications, and Earth observation services form the backbone of many essential processes, such as fleet management or bank transactions. They are also key to the Netherlands’ military capabilities. Several strategic processes, from the execution of beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations to nuclear deterrence, are dependent on satellites. In the long term, space is also likely to play a role in the global energy transition. For example, the rare earth elements (REEs) contained in celestial bodies are in increasingly limited supply on Earth and are required for many renewable technologies.

As interstate competition heats up, an increasing number of states – more than 80 in 2018, compared to 50 in 2008 – have launched satellites into orbit. This, along with reductions in the cost of launching payloads, intro- duces both threats and opportunities from the Dutch perspective. Well-managed, commercially proactive, and internationally regulated initiatives to unlock and safeguard the space domain’s huge potential could con- tribute to European strategic autonomy, to the energy transition, and to a continued economic growth. Badly managed initiatives could see an intensification of inter-state competition and the deterioration of public services.

Download Strategic Alert


Hugo van Manen, Frank Bekkers (HCSS)


Zuzana Kupistikova, Tim Sweijs, Patrick Bolder (HCSS)