The Netherlands is unaware that Britain’s prime minister David Cameron is to deliver a major speech on Europe in the Netherlands on January 22nd, the Mail newspaper reported at the weekend.
According to Britain’s Sun newspaper last week: ‘David Cameron will hit back at president Obama’s attack on his EU referendum plan by unveiling a major European ally — the Dutch.’
Cameron will ‘almost certainly make the speech in The Hague’, the Sun says and ‘Dutch leader Mark Rutte will back his bid to fight for powers and money to be returned to nation states’.
However, although the Dutch speech was first tipped by the Financial Times last week, a spokesman for Rutte told the Mail: ‘We do not know where or when [the speech will be]. We are very curious.’
In addition, Rutte’s official spokesman Stephan Schrover told the paper: ‘We are not aiming for opt outs or something like that. We are also not in redefinition of our relationship with the European Union.
‘What we want is a better functioning European Union, strengthening the internal market, getting the costs down – that kind of thing.’
Schrover also said the Netherlands thinks it is important that Britain stays in the European Union. ‘We have done some common activities about stimulating growth, freed trade… we have a common stand in those issue but of course there are also many differences,’ he is quoted as saying.
According to the Charlemagne Brussels blog in The Economist: ‘Nobody will say so explicitly, but one gets the distinct feeling Rutte would rather Cameron went elsewhere: if it’s a big speech about the future of Europe why not go directly to Brussels? Or if its about Britain’s relations with the EU, what’s wrong with the House of Commons?’
Althought both men like each other and are ‘hawkish about the need to restrain EU spending, and forthright in promoting freer trade… Rutte has been one of the most tight-fisted leaders when it comes to bailing out others and most reluctant to mutualise liabilities,’ the blog states.
Rutte has also flirted with Euroscepticism through his alliance with Geert Wilders’ anti-EU PVV in his previous government. And if forced to choose between Germany and Britain, Rutte will take Germany’s side, the Economist points out.
The Huffington Post says that Cameron’s coalition partner and Liberal leader Nick Clegg joked to journalists about the trip on Thursday last week.
‘Clegg joked that the prime minister would be giving his ‘major speech’ on Britain’s membership of the EU in Holland,’ the website said.
‘Playfully deriding Cameron’s more eurosceptic view, he added: ‘As a native Dutch speaker I will be at hand to give a translation from double-Dutch to just Dutch.’ Clegg’s mother is Dutch and he speaks the language fluently.