National security

A crisis or disaster like a flu pandemic or terrorist attack can cause social disruption. But floods and major power failures can also jeopardise national security. The government has therefore launched a National Security Strategy to catalogue the various risks and prepare the Netherlands for any crisis. It makes sure, for example, that organisations like hospitals, energy companies and government institutions have a continuity plan in place to help them prepare for operational disruptions caused by the sudden unavailability of large numbers of staff, failure of IT systems or power cuts.

National security is at stake when one or more of our country’s vital interests are threatened. Those interests are:

  • Territorial security: this would be jeopardised by a military occupation, but also by prolonged flooding;
  • Economic security: a major internet failure or power cut would disrupt online financial transactions and be very costly;
  • Ecological security: damage to the environment from pollution or extreme heat or drought;
  • Physical security: deaths, injuries and chronic illnesses caused by a pandemic or major accident;
  • Social and political stability: undermining of core values of democracy caused, for instance, by tensions between communities.

Threats to the Netherlands

Every year, the government examines the potential threats to national security so that it can take the necessary measures to prevent crises or disasters or limit their consequences. Threats include:

  • river or coastal flooding;
  • pandemics such as widespread flu;
  • extreme weather such as storms and heavy snowfall;
  • power cuts;
  • radicalisation and extremism;
  • social unrest and rioting;
  • internet or telephone network disruptions;
  • criminal infiltration of mainstream society and corruption;
  • terrorist attacks;
  • scarcity of commodities such as oil, minerals, or food;
  • major accidents such as a plane or train crash, or accidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials.
Not all threats are equally likely. An accident at a nuclear power station is less likely than a major outbreak of flu. To understand the risks that threaten this country and rank their seriousness, the government has developed a National Risk Assessment as part of its National Security Strategy. The risk chart in the annual findings report shows the likelihood and potential impact of various scenarios. Although the chart does not yet show all the possible threats, it clearly sets out the seriousness and likelihood of the main ones.