Flanders and the Netherlands geared for common future
Flanders and the Netherlands plan to develop strategies that will see the two countries engage in economic collaboration under the banner De Lage Landen The Low Countries. The government of Flanders approved a memorandum that confirms the development of a long-term commitment that will encompass collaboration on an economic level and include issues such as urbanisation and innovation. With their common platform they may be able to create “a strong brand,” the memorandum states. This forging of ties took place in the Ursel Castle in Bornem, where the minister-presidents of The Netherlands and Flanders, Mark Rutte VVD and Kris Peeters CD&V, met to deliberate on 4 July this year. Meanwhile scientists from the Flemish Foreign Policy Support Centre and its reputed Dutch counterpart, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, the Clingendael Institute, have outlined its objectives in a comprehensive report. The basic premise is that the two countries are both colleagues and competitors, often facing exactly the same obstacles which could be dealt with much more successfully if they were to join forces. As prime example one could think of the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam. Traditionally these two ports are rivals competing for the same stakes, but in practice they are growing closer together and becoming much more interconnected. The port of Antwerp employs 2,500 Dutch workers and a division of certain tasks between both harbours is not uncommon. Today the globalized economy no longer looks at the two in terms of separate identities Rotterdam or Antwerp but rather as a collective Rhine-Scheldt Delta investment destination in competition with Hamburg and Genoa. Both countries face the same challenges of road mobility and declining oil reserves for their energy and chemical industries and could only benefit if they seek joint solutions. To this end the governments of both countries plan to implement the strategic method of scenario planning to address certain key issues from a scientific basis.