Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the new Airbus production facility, Oegstgeest

Mr Hoke, Mr de Jong, ladies and gentlemen,

I just took the grand tour of this fantastic location and I must say, I'm not only impressed but also a bit overwhelmed.
So much high-tech knowledge and know-how in thirty minutes is a lot to grasp for a history major.

Like so many of my generation, I grew up with those famous words from Star Trek: 'Space: the final frontier.'
But let me assure you, even I understand that there's nothing final when it comes to space exploration.
On the contrary, we can only imagine all the discoveries yet to be made.
All the unknown opportunities that are written in the stars.
This production plant and the development of Ariane 6 will help us take the next step.
Not to boldly go where no one has gone before in some fantasy world, but to find real solutions for the real problems and challenges we face.
Climate change is a case in point.
Ariane 6 will transport satellites and other instruments into space that will help us understand even better what is happening to our planet.
The more we know about CO2 emissions and air quality, the better we can prepare and adapt.
The Netherlands already has an international reputation to uphold in this respect, and the work of Airbus and its partners at this location will only enhance it.

So I'm proud and delighted that Airbus and its partners have chosen Oegstgeest as their place of business.
Your choice underscores the importance that the Dutch government attaches to a strong space sector in our country.
In fact, we even highlighted this ambition in the coalition agreement we presented last year.
We want to build on everything that's been accomplished since the European Space Agency was set up and ESTEC came to Noordwijk at the end of the 1960s.

Why is this so important to us?
Well, obviously, because it's important for our economy and for employment in our country.
An industry with a turnover of a billion euros a year and 7,000 jobs is not something we want to risk losing.
But even more importantly: a strong space sector is an asset to the innovative power of our economy.
As the fourth-most innovative country in the EU, we are playing in the Champions League and we intend to stay there.
It means a lot to us that ESTEC is one of the largest and most international knowledge institutions in our country.
And it means a lot that, today, a major high-tech industry player like Airbus is reaffirming that the Netherlands is the perfect place to invest in the future.
I'm confident it will be a successful future.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to the most exciting part of today.
Because, in the eight years that I've been in this job, I've performed my fair share of opening ceremonies.
But never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I'd be virtually launching the Ariane 6.
So in that respect, today we are boldly going where no one has gone before.
And I say 'we' because I need your help to get the 'all-clear' sign for this launch.
Would you please aim your pointers straight ahead at the lights on the screen?
(…)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are 'go' for launch!
Thank you, and I wish Airbus and its partners every success for the future!