Nearly three-quarters of the Dutch think the Netherlands should loosen ties with the US and work more closely with Germany and France. This is according to new research from the ‘Foreign Barometer,’ a study developed by the Clingendael and Kieskompas research institutes.
The study polled over 23,000 Dutch people about their views on transatlantic ties and European security. Now that the British are leaving the EU and President Donald Trump “has turned the US into an unreliable ally,” the majority of Dutch respondents (72%) agreed that the Netherlands should cooperate more with its European allies.
The Netherlands is traditionally one of America's staunchest allies. Atlanticism runs deep.
But what does the Dutch population think of today's transatlantic relations, European strategic autonomy, and a 'Cold War' with China?
We took the Dutch pulse. (N = 23.000)
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The US a threat to EU security?
The study showed that 29% of Dutch people view the United States as a threat to European security, while 35% do not. The remaining 36% have a neutral stance or do not know.
Perceptions of the US as a threat vary greatly between political parties. Forum for Democracy, PVV, and the Christian-right SGP supporters are least likely to see the US as a threat. These party supporters often hold views in line with the Trump administration’s policies, particularly its tough stance on immigration, so they may be more likely to view the US in a positive light.
Conversely, supporters of the Socialist Party and DENK are most likely to see the US as a threat. The study draws that this is likely due to general anti-Americanism within the parties.
Belief that the US will reduce its EU protection
A strong divide was found between ‘Atlanticists’ and ‘Europeanists.’ Those who see the US as a threat are likely to be in favour of more cooperation with France and Germany. The survey found that 79% of respondents think it’s likely that the US will reduce its protection of the EU in the next five years because the US believes Europeans should take more responsibility for their own security.
Cold War Correlation
Another correlation was drawn among those who view the US as a threat and those who see China or Russia as one. Even among those who do view the US as a threat, they do not prefer one of the other powerful nations. Previous concerns about a forceful USSR have now been replaced with preoccupations about increasing geopolitical rivalry among the great powers.
However, in a hypothetical ‘new Cold War’ between the US and China, only 5% of respondents say they would side with China, while 28% would choose the US. The majority (60%) would prefer to remain neutral. Young people, especially responded that they would prefer neutrality (70% of those under age 35).
The survey concludes the Dutch perception of its transatlantic relationship is changing. The Netherlands has traditionally been a dedicated supporter of strong US ties but is now leaning more toward European reliance. It’s not possible to say whether these opinions reflect a structural shift, or whether they’re a temporary effect of the current US political administration.
What do you think of the weakened faith in transatlantic ties? Should the Netherlands cooperate more with Germany and France and less with the US? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: The White House/Wikimedia Commons