The EU needs to under-promise and over-deliver, says Dutch PM 

Press Releases 
Plenary session 
  • Seventh in a series of future of Europe debates between national leaders and MEPs 
  • Greater commitment needed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 
  • Europe is not a menu you can pick and choose from  
Dutch PM Mark Rutte addressing the plenary in Strasbourg© European Union 2018 - EP  

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte debated the future of Europe with MEPs and EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on Wednesday.

“More and more Europe is not the answer to the many problems that people face in their daily lives. For some, ‘ever closer union’ is still a goal in itself. Not for me. The EU needs to under-promise and over-deliver. Because focusing on core tasks will promote the Union’s effectiveness, strength and identity. And it will boost unity”, Mr Rutte said.

“So let me be very clear: 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. I believe that the future of Europe should essentially be about the original promise of Europe. The promise of sovereign member states working together to help each other achieve greater prosperity, security and stability”, he continued.


“But we can only deliver on this promise if a deal is a deal. And if the difficult compromises we have to make apply to everyone – and in full. Europe isn’t a menu you can pick and choose from”.

Mr Rutte listed the common migration policy, joint control of the EU external borders and collective security and climate action as areas upon which the EU needs to focus. He said that the current EU target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 is not enough, proposing a 55% reduction instead.


He also argued that much could be improved within the Eurozone.


“We’ve come a long way, and the EU has shown that it can take action when it has to. But we’re not sufficiently prepared for another crisis. And yes, I know that a currency union needs stabilisation mechanisms at times of crisis.  But if the 19 Eurozone countries were to put their own budgets and national debts in order, that would probably be stabilisation enough. That, too, is simply an existing agreement under the Stability and Growth Pact”, said the Dutch PM.

Mr Rutte also underlined that to the Netherlands, it is only logical that the EU’s long-term budget should shrink after Brexit.


Leaders of the main political groups quizzed Mr Rutte on his stance on external affairs, EU Treaty Article 7 (suspending certain rights of member states in the event of a breach of EU values), migration and requested a repeal of the unanimity rule in the Council. 


Some condemned the Dutch government for having long granted favorable tax deals to multinational companies and tolerating a culture of tax avoidance.


Others reiterated their support for the Dutch authorities and people following the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine in July 2014, calling on Russia to stop denying responsibility and cooperate with efforts to  find out what happened.


Live replays


Introduction by Antonio TAJANI, President of European Parliament


Mark RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands


Frans TIMMERMANS, Commission First Vice-President


Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)




Peter van DALEN (ECR, NL)




Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE)


Dennis de JONG (GUE/NGL, NL)




Marcel de GRAAFF (ENF, NL)


Mark RUTTE  Prime Minister of the Netherlands replies to the first round of speakers: