The 2018 Apeldoorn: British-Dutch Dialogue Conference was held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Friday 6 July.
The Apeldoorn Conference Series was launched in 1999 by Tony Blair and Wim Kok, then Prime Ministers of the UK and the Netherlands. The series is jointly organised and part-funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Council. Apeldoorn also enjoys the support of a number of high-profile long-term corporate sponsors, including Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever and ING.
The conference regularly attracts a wide range of influential policymakers, politicians, business leaders, academics and civil society representatives from both sides of the North Sea, who come together to share ideas, expertise and best practice. Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas and Senator Alexander Rinnooy Kan are the Co-Chairs of the Conference Steering Board and the Advisory Board is made up of a diverse group of thought leaders from both countries.
This year’s conference in London, the fifteenth in the series, focused on the future of the UK-Netherlands bilateral relationship. Taking place two years after the UK voted to leave the European Union, and with exit negotiations between the UK and the EU ongoing, Apeldoorn 2018 comes at something of a watershed moment. With so much attention on the Brexit process, this year’s conference offers an opportunity to lift our gaze beyond the next couple of years and to consider what the British-Dutch relationship might look like in 2025 and beyond. It is also a chance to re-energise the bilateral relationship and highlight its value to an audience which may have come to take it for granted.
In this unique edition, the focus of the conference was on our two countries’ shared challenges and values. Building on the results of the previous conferences and the strengths of the British-Dutch relationship, the conference considered the challenges both countries are likely to face in the future. The conference brought together a mix of influential figures from both countries to discuss issues of mutual interest in the areas of higher education, culture and people, the new economy, and facing the wider world.
The fifteenth Apeldoorn Conference was a full-day event, culminating in a celebratory dinner. Around seventy influential figures from the UK and Netherlands took part in the conference.