The Netherlands could improve its reputation abroad by earmarking 25% of its aid budget for rapid reaction projects after disasters, the head of the Dutch employers’ organisation VNO-NCW says in an interview with the Volkskrant.
The money – around €1bn – should go on emergency aid ‘with the aim of being the first at every disaster’, Hans de Boer told the paper.
The Netherlands needs to boost its foreign earnings and has to work on the Netherlands as an international brand, he said.
‘The defence ministry should buy a couple more cargo planes and helicopters then we can fly there with tents and food, the whole caboodle,’ he said. ‘That will be our trademark. If there are problems anywhere, the Netherlands will be the first to help you. And so you position yourself as a generous country.’
However, aid organisation Oxfam Novib dismissed the suggestion. The last thing people in a disaster zone need is a popularity race between western countries to be first at the scene, a spokesman told the paper. Coordination is key but that does not gell with the ‘every man for himself’ concept, the spokesman said.
Other VNO-NCW plans to boost the Netherlands as a brand include hosting the 2028 Olympic Games, bringing the World Exhibition to Rotterdam in 2025 and organising an annual speech by an international speaker in front of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch painting in the Rijksmuseum.