The Netherlands is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a head of government - the prime minister - and a head of state - the monarch. A council of ministers holds executive power. The country is divided into 12 provinces and 388 municipalities. It is also divided into 22 water districts, governed by an executive board that has authority in matters of water management. The Netherlands also includes 6 overseas countries and territories in the Caribbean. These territories are not part of the EU.
Trade and economy
The most important sectors of the Netherlands’ economy in 2020 were public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (21.7%), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (20.4%) and Professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities (14.7%).
Intra-EU trade accounts for 66% of the Netherlands’ exports (Germany 23%, Belgium 10% and France 9%), while outside the EU 8% go to the United States and 4% to the United Kingdom.
In terms of imports, 42% come from EU Member States (Germany 15% and Belgium 8%), while outside the EU 17% come from China and 8% from the United States.
The Netherlands in the EU
Council of the EU
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Dutch government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
Presidency of the Council of the EU
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Dutch presidencies:
Jul-Dec 1960 | Jul-Dec 1963 | Jul-Dec 1966 | Jul-Dec 1969 | Jul-Dec 1972 | Jul-Dec 1976 | Jan-Jun 1981 | Jan-Jun 1986 | Jul-Dec 1991 | Jan-Jun 1997 | Jul-Dec 2004 | Jan-Jun 2016
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
European Economic & Social Committee
The Netherlands has 12 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
European Committee of the Regions
The Netherlands has 12 representatives on the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Permanent representation to the EU
The Netherlands also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As the Netherlands' "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Budgets and Funding
How much does the Netherlands pay and receive?
How much each EU country pays into the EU budget is calculated fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa.
The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather focuses on the needs of Europeans as a whole.
Figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
EU-funded projects in the Netherlands
The money paid into the EU budget by the Netherlands helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how the Netherlands benefits from EU funding.