- Category: News
- Created on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 11:44
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
In an interview with radio station BNR, Hans Hillen said the three countries would announce plans this week for wide-ranging co-operation.
Hillen said the new arrangements were needed in the wake of cuts to the defence budget which have already seen 10,000 Dutch military personnel laid off.
Further savings are expected to be required as part of the new coalition deal which is being drawn up by the Liberal (VVD) and Christian Democrat (CDA) parties together with the Freedom Party (PVV) led by Geert Wilders.
One project where Hillen is keen to see closer co-operation is on the replacement of the F16 fighter jet, which he said could be an opportunity to pool resources with the Belgian and Scandinavian air forces.
He told the radio station: ‘Europe spends far more on defence than the Russians, but a lot of it goes on command structures and areas which are superfluous.
‘What I am trying to do, both in Europe and within Nato, is to facilitate more and more co-operation… We already have regular meetings at Nato with what we call the “northern group”.
‘Working together on training, development, maintenance and repairs can bring a lot of cost benefits.’
The minister did not rule out the possiblilty of merging the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg armed forces altogether in the long term.
Defence and foreign ministers are due to discuss the issue of co-operation at a Nato meeting in Brussels later this week.