In 1999, Prime Ministers Wim Kok and Tony Blair decided to launch an annual bilateral conference series. Their vision was to bring together a group of leading and promising thinkers from both countries on a regular basis to come up with creative solutions for issues of shared concern. The Apeldoorn: British-Dutch Dialogue Conference Series was established, taking its name from the Dutch city of Apeldoorn, where the first ever conference took place in 2000. In time for the conference’s 20th anniversary year, it was renamed NL-UK: North Sea Neighbours, reflecting the close links that bind the Netherlands and the United Kingdom together.
North Sea Neighbours conferences have become a forum where the most influential commentators, policymakers, politicians, business leaders, academics and civil society representatives from both sides of the North Sea come together to pool ideas, expertise and best practice, and create lasting relationships, alliances and networks.
Conferences take place every one to two years, alternating between the Netherlands and the UK; they tackle a different contemporary theme – a key policy challenge facing both countries – each time. Attendance is by invitation only.
The conference series is jointly organised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, with support from the British Council Netherlands. It is generously supported by our sponsors ING, Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.