The two Dutch coalition parties are divided in their response to British prime minister David Cameron’s speech on Europe, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Wednesday afternoon.
The paper says while the VVD Liberals are positive in their reaction to the speech, their Labour coalition partner thinks the cabinet should distance itself from Cameron’s remarks.
‘Britain has been an important partner for the Netherlands and will continue to be so,’ VVD spokesman Mark Verheijen said. The MP said he shared Cameron’s analysis that too much power has been transferred to Brussels and needs to be given back to the member states
But Labour’s Europe spokesman Michiel Servaes says Cameron wants to fundamentally change the character of the European alliance. His main message is to call for a more flexible form of EU membership, allowing Britain to opt out of key agreements, Servaes said.
‘In so doing, Cameron is taking an axe to the roots of the European alliance and the internal market,’ the FD quoted him as saying. The Dutch cabinet must clearly distance itself from this road, the MP said.
In a formal statement, Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said the Netherlands agrees with Britain that the EU needs reform and that he hoped the British government and other like-minded member states will put all their energy into reforming the EU.
‘You reform the EU from inside, not by walking away,’ the Labour minister said. This why the Netherlands is keen to ensure Britain remains a member.
‘An EU which has been reformed, made more democratic, more efficient and economically stronger is the best way of convincing all European citizens of the need for this historically unique project,’ he said.