The long-waited coalition agreement for a new right-wing minority Dutch government has been published. There is still one more hurdle to jump before the government can be formed: The Christian Democrat (CDA) members still have to approve CDA’s participation, which they are expected to do during a tense and crowded congress on Saturday.
But there is already a significant change affecting Radio Netherlands Worldwide. In future, RNW will be financed from the budget for Development Cooperation, that falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The coalition agreement states that RNW should focus on its core business, without specifically defining what that should be. The current tasks include: informing Dutch nationals abroad, the provision of independent information in countries in which information is limited, and distributing a realistic picture of the Netherlands abroad.
Up to now, RNW has been funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. RNW Director-General Jan Hoek is pleased at the change, which he believes is logical. He told staff that “It is good that the importance of an international broadcaster for an internationally oriented country like the Netherlands is recognized and acknowledged. 70% of every euro is earned abroad, so the Netherlands has a responsibility and an interest in maintaining an active presence on the international stage.“
However, Mr Hoek noted that although nothing is said in the coalition agreement about a budget cut for RNW, this is still possible as Foreign Affairs must find savings of nearly 1 billion euros. Once the new government is in place, consultation with the ministry should provide clarity.