A cyber attack on vital infrastructure such as the provision of energy or banking services, is top of the list of fears among the Dutch, according to the latest edition of the Clingendael Institute’s foreign affairs barometer.
The research, carried out annually, gauges what the Dutch population perceives as threats and what offers them hope in the international environment. The Dutch primarily fear threats that will directly affect the community and expect they will take place within five years, such as the threat of war, the researchers found.
Second on the list of disruptive threats after a cyber attack is foreign government intervention with immigrant communities in the Netherlands, followed by an Islamic terrorist attack in third place.
While migration-related developments score high in the threat rankings, protectionism and possible disengagement from China score very low as threats. Nor do the Dutch consider a rise in hatred against Muslims as a threat, even though 67% think it will happen.
In addition, people’s views on climate change are moving on, and hope is now being placed on adaptation to cope with the shifts, rather than in halting the rise in temperatures, the researchers found.
“The Dutch believe in the positive impact of adapting to climate change by targeted investment and think there will be major advances in this field within five years,” the report states. “Climate mitigation is much lower down the list of hopes.”
On the positive side, better protection against cyber attacks, Sweden joining the EU and the development of a modern manufacturing industry – such as microchips – are all seen as giving hope for the future.
“I see a lot of high expectations across all sorts of policy areas,” Clingendael director Monika Sie Dhian Ho told the Parool. “People also put a lot of hope in international alliances in terms of public safety. That goes for expanding Nato with Sweden to combating international drugs crime.”
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