Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will deliver a major speech on Europe on Friday afternoon, in which he is expected to outline his views on the future of the EU.
The speech, which is being held in Berlin, will look at the ‘added value which the alliance between European countries brings’, according to a brief statement on the prime minister’s website.
‘The speech is an opportunity to highlight the Dutch position on current European themes.’
Rutte, the fourth-longest serving prime minister within the EU, is giving his speech at a key moment, says the AD. Europe is poised to take a number of far-reaching decisions – on an EU migration strategy, on Brexit and on strengthening monetary union.
The Netherlands, the AD says, has strong opinions on all these subjects but ‘no fixed group of friends to work together with’. The loss of the British, a traditional ally of the Dutch, is a blow and the other Benelux countries are siding with France and Macron, who want to blow new life into the EU.
Insiders told the AD that Rutte’s speech will focus on the jobs the EU can create if the internal market is expanded to cover energy, and capital and digital services. He will alos talk about the added value of working together and the need to limit the role of the EU to areas where added value can be created, the paper said.
According to broadcaster NOS, Rutte will explain to the rest of Europe why the Netherlands does not back more European integration.
And NOS points out that last week one of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s most important advisors said last week in Brussels: ‘We are not going to do anything with the French without discussing it with the Dutch.’
But that statement also contains a warning for the Netherlands, NOS said. ‘The Netherlands must show more leadership. It might not always be good for your popularity to back the EU, but sometimes as a politician you have to do the sensible thing.’
According to Trouw, it is clear that the Netherlands cannot tackle large, existing problems without Europe, but it is the relationship between those problems and European cooperation that Rutte struggles with.
The prime minister has no problem at all in emphasising that migration, counterterrorism and meeting the targets in the Paris climate treaty are major issues on which the Netherlands and other countries depend entirely on mutual cooperation, the paper said.
‘Rutte is unlikely to make choices today. The time will come, however, when simply saying that the European Union exists only to achieve the dreamed-of common market is no longer enough,’ the paper said.