PARIS: The European Union’s relationship with the U.S. is ‘no longer self-evident’, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday.
“Looking at Europe and the world today, it’s clear: the European Union needs to make choices. Choices about its course and its role in the years to come,” Dutch PM told European lawmakers during a speech at the European Parliament.
Rutte, who leads a four-party coalition government forged in October last year nearly seven months after parliamentary elections in March, said his “personal views on the importance of the EU have evolved over the years to realize that the EU is more than a market, is also about security and stability.”
“The mere fact that we work together, that we are embedded in this Union, makes us stronger, safer and more effective.”
Arguing that the geopolitical balance of power is shifting, Rutte said, “if we want to be able to act, if we want to determine our own future, Europe must stand united. Now, more than ever.”
“Even the relationship with our most important ally is no longer self-evident,” Rutte said referring to the U.S. which has unilaterally pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.
He said the U.S. triggered a debate thought to be “obsolete” by imposing import duties on steel and aluminum.
“But of course we remain friends and allies… And we need to keep working as closely as possible with the U.S.,” he said.
“The EU is the most successful example in world history of how multilateralism and the willingness to compromise can bring about unprecedented security, stability, and prosperity.”
Brexit to leave ‘a big hole’
Rutte said the departure of the U.K. will leave “a big hole in our circle”, but that the remaining 27 states are now “even more aware” of the importance “of unity and working together”.
“Unity is the bedrock of our strength. Unity defines our ability to act. Sadly, Brexit will leave a big hole in our circle,” he said.
“As a founding member, the Netherlands is committed to ensuring that our circle stays strong. That the EU remains successful and effective. For the Netherlands, EU membership is self-evident.”
EU should cut CO2 emissions by more
The Dutch PM said, “the debate about the future of the EU should not be about more or less Europe. It should be about where the EU can add value.”
He said the fight against climate change is an area where the EU can act together to “lead the way” and urged to increase EU emissions target to 55 percent by 2030 instead of the 40 percent set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
“Not only to meet our obligations but also because a competitive and forward-looking Europe is by definition a sustainable Europe,” Rutte said, adding that the goal can “absolutely” be reached “as long as we, the member states, Commission and European Parliament, all make it our goal.”
“Together with countries like France, the Netherlands wants to lead the way on this new climate ambition.”