Dutch Round Table
The Tafelronde (English: Round Table) is a private gathering every six weeks of important Dutch people within politics, media, the economy and the civil service. Outside society is barely aware of its existence.
The Round Table is an private society where the top people of Dutch business, politics and the civil service have been meeting for 120 years, and where confidentiality is so self-evident that hardly anyone else knows about it. There is no deed of incorporation and there are no minutes taken. The meetings has survived two world wars.
The main event of the evening is a substantive discussion. The chairman selected a topic in advance and asked a Table Round member to introduce it. Speakers always come from their own ranks: the private society does not invite outside experts.
The Round Table follows a "fairly tight formula", said chairman Dick Benschop, CEO of Schiphol. Nine times a year, the members meet behind the fences of Wittenburg Castle in Wassenaar. The meetings of the Round Table always take place on Monday evenings and last approximately two hours, from seven to nine. The meeting starts with a short drink, followed by a dinner in the library room. On average, twenty to thirty members attend one evening. It was not until 2011 that the Round Table admitted the first woman.
The monumental Wittenburg castle has been an exclusive meeting place for the Dutch elite since 1963. Just like the Amsterdam industrialist L.W.F. Sträten, the former owner, envisioned. He bought De Wittenburg with a specific goal: "The intention is that contacts are established here between prominent people and that those contacts are maintained; that initiatives are born among members that are so important that they can be implemented." "Everyone knows where to find each other when there is a problem."
Membership in the Round Table is reserved for only a few. Even people you would expect to see because of their powerful position in society don't always get in. According to Benschop, members should above all be "interesting" and "have something to say". "A nice CV is not the criterion," he says, "you want thinkers who can do just that little bit more in their role and position".
New members often come from the immediate environment of existing members, for example when a member is succeeded in his job. For example, former NRC editor-in-chief Jérôme Louis Heldring was told to approach Wout Woltz in 1983, when it became clear that he would become the new editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Woltz reports that eventually Ernst van der Beugel took over the task of recruiting him.
Members include top executives whose organizations and companies have left their mark on the Dutch economy and society. Hans Wijers, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ING and former Minister of Economic Affairs (1994-1998). Klaas Knot, the president of De Nederlandsche Bank. Laura van Geest, the former CPB director who now runs the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets. Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren. Jeroen van der Veer, former CEO of Shell and currently chairman of the supervisory board of Philips. And the current chairman of the Round Table, Dick Benschop, is director of Schiphol airport.
When the Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren was asked in 2021 if she finds it problematic in any way that she meets on this structural basis with top people from the Dutch business community, the answer was: 'The minister is open to a conversation or discussion with everyone and has participated once in a while since she took office. A membership of, for example, a tennis club, the chess club or a food club is allowed." The minister sees no problem in her membership of the prominent society.
Eelke Heemskerk, associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, specializes in elite networks states: "It is a time-honored sociological mechanism," he explains, "that outsiders overestimate the guiding function of such societies and those in them underestimate the influence it exerts." Both positions misunderstand how such societies function. "Influence does not come directly from the societies themselves, but from the relationships people develop or maintain there," he says.
Heemskerk sees the Tafelronde as a kind of echo chamber, a "consensus machine" for the elite. "By that I don't mean consensus as in" everyone agrees, so let's do it this way, "but a consensus that clarifies the playing field of acceptable views. What is within the boundary, what is outside it, how should we consider this? "
38 of the 119 of the members already have pages here:
|Jan Peter Balkenende||Dutch PM for 8 years in 2000s, became PM after his opponent - who was leading in the polls - got assassinated. Single Bilderberger, joined the war on terror, oversaw the decade with the most deaths from terror-attacks on Dutch soil.|
|Ernst Hirsch Ballin||Dutch politician, only Minister to have ever "burned" a suspected Mossad agent on a political party list on the order of the AIVD. Also pressured an MP to stop investigating Justice Secretary-General Joris Demmink.|
|Dick Benschop||Attended the 2000 Bilderberg as Dutch State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Tafelronde/Chair, Trilateral Commission, Shell CEO, Schiphol Airport Director|
|Ernst van der Beugel||Dutch deep politician, 34 Bilderbergs, on both the Advisory & Steering committees|
|Barend Biesheuvel||1968 Bilderberg. Dutch PM 1971-73|
|Robbert Dijkgraaf||One time Bilderberger. String theorist|
|Wim Duisenberg||President of the European Central Bank, 7 Bilderbergs|
|Louise Fresco||Dutch food scientist who sat on the board of Unilever when she attended the 2015 Bilderberg meeting. In 2020, appointed to World Health Organization Commission that called for a Pandemic Treaty and a One Health strategy to take control over human, animal and environmental health.|
|Victor Halberstadt||A professor of economics, with a minimal Wikipedia page, who has attended all Bilderberg meetings since 1975.|
|Jérôme Heldring||Chief editor of NRC Handelsblad from 1968 to 1972, connected to the paper from 1953. Conservative, but warned that the peace dividend was a lie and the west had failed to develop to that dividend at all in 2012. Died one year later.|
|Jan Hommen||Triple Bilderberger Dutch corporate executive.|
|Poul Louis Justman Jacob||Chairman of Dutch state steel company Koninklijke Hoogovens in the 20th century.|
|Alexander H.G. Rinnooy Kan||Dutch politician, businessman and mathematician|
|E. N. van Kleffens||Dutch Bilderberger, heavy Bilderberg habit, President of the United Nations General Assembly 1954-55|
|Gerard J. Kleisterlee||Dutch businessman, Tafelronde|
|Ben Knapen||NRC Handelsblad/Editor-in-Chief, NOS correspondent, State secretary of European Affairs from 2010 to 2012, Dutch Senator.|
|Klaas Knot||BIS, 4 Bilderbergs, Central banker,Trilateral Commission|
|Wim Kok||Dutch Minister of State, Dutch PM, Bilderberg, sued for war crimes in Yugoslavia where he and Jozias van Aartsen blamed "the wind" for missing targets by thousands of meters, killing dozens. Court found NATO and the Dutch Air Force and not the wind guilty, as NATO "used wrong legal basis".|
|Aarnout Loudon||Tafelronde, 1984 Bilderberg|
|Ad Melkert||Double Bilderberg Dutch politician|
|Kajsa Ollongren||Single Bilderberg Dutch politician|
|Conrad Oort||Bilderberg Steering committee Dutch banker|
|Herman van Roijen|
|H. Onno Ruding||TLC, 3*Bilderberg, implicated in underage sex-ring with Prince Claus and Mayor Ed van Thijn.|
|Paul Rykens||Dutch businessman and friend of Józef Retinger who was initially consulted on the founding of the Bilderberg Group|
|Ivo Samkalden||Dutch politician who attended 4 Bilderbergs in the early 1960s. Law and order mayor of Amsterdam from 1967 to 1977. Opposed many peace-projects.|
|Jaap de Hoop Scheffer||Bilderberger, ex Secretary General of NATO. He held an "anti-terrorist exercise" in Madrid 3 days before the 2004 Madrid train bombings.|
|Dirk Stikker||Dutch Bilderberg diplomat and banker, Secretary General of NATO|
|Morris Tabaksblat||Dutch Bilderberger businessman|
|Ed van Thijn||Mayor of Amsterdam, shadow-cabinet founder, suspected paedophile in a underage sex-ring with Prince Claus and Onno Ruding.|
|Jeroen van der Veer||HexaBilderberger Shell manager, Honorary Global Chairman of the London Speaker Bureau|
|Gijs de Vries||Dutch "terror expert" WEF/Global Leaders for Tomorrow 1998...|
|Klaas de Vries||Single Bilderberg retired Dutch politician who attended Atlantic Storm|
|Nout Wellink||Attended the 2006, 2009 and 2010 Bilderbergs as President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands|
|Hans Wijers||Dutch very centrally placed business executive. Bilderberg/2004 and Bilderberg/2009. Member of the Trilateral Commission’s Task Force on Global Capitalism in Transition|
|Herman Wijffels||Dutch economist politician|
|Gerrit Zalm||Dutch politician. Shell. Attended the Bilderberg in 2014, personally prosecuted for money laundering at ABN AMRO Bank.|
|Jelle Zijlstra||Former PM, triple Bilderberger and Dutch Minister of State. Secret central banker for the US and rejected saving Dries van Agt in 1981 and chairman-post for the European Commission. Only PM in the world to become BIS president.|