Speech by Prime Minister Rutte during visit Hertie School

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands held this speech at the Hertie School, Berlin.

Präsidentin Woll,

Five years ago, just a short distance from here, I gave a speech at the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

At the time we were in the middle of the Brexit negotiations, and that day I spoke about Europe.

About the importance of the EU meeting the basic needs of all Europeans.

About prosperity.



Now, five years have passed, and the world has changed dramatically.

But the striking thing is that I could give exactly the same speech here today.

Because there is still only one solution to the big issues of our time: cooperation.

Of course, I don’t need to explain that to you.

More than half of the current students at the Hertie School have come from abroad to study here.

If you include alumni, there are more than 95 countries represented at this school.

So, for me – and I’m sure for you too –  the Hertie School is clear proof that you can achieve success when you join forces at international level.

That might sound obvious.
But these days we can no longer assume that everyone agrees on this point.

The main topic on our agenda five years ago – Brexit – was a clear illustration of that.
But you can see it elsewhere in Europe too.

If I’ve learned anything in my 13 years as prime minister, it’s that we need each other in Europe.

If I’ve learned anything in my 13 years as prime minister, it’s that we need each other in Europe.
On all the big issues we face, Europe’s task now is to close ranks.

On stability.



Key topics which all demand a Europe-wide approach.

And fortunately, that’s exactly what they can count on getting.

Migration is currently one of the biggest issues in Europe, including in the Netherlands.

Not only was it the issue that brought down the Dutch government last summer.
It also played a big role in our recent elections.

And yet, over the years I’ve learned that, when it comes to migration, the only path forward is the common path forward.

In 2016, Chancellor Merkel and I concluded a deal with Türkiye on the reception of Syrian refugees in that country.

That helped us deal with the acute crisis, but for me the bigger lesson was: we can succeed if we work together.

Of course, this didn’t immediately solve the whole problem.

Europe is still receiving more migrants than it can handle.

But I firmly believe that we can get migration under control if all the EU countries work together.

If we make agreements with countries of origin.

If we work to create future prospects for people in those countries.

And if we make sure that migrants with no right to stay, actually return to their countries.

That won’t be easy.

But it is possible, if everyone in Europe shows unity.

The same unity with which we are supporting Ukraine.

Peace, security and freedom can never be taken for granted.

Since Russia’s brutal invasion last year, the EU has closed ranks in its support for Ukraine.

By no means everyone expected that.
Putin certainly didn’t.

He had counted on a divided Europe that was unable to respond to his aggression.

He was wrong.

The lessons Europe learned after the Second World War still resonate in the here and now.

Peace, security and freedom can never be taken for granted.

They require our enduring commitment.

Ever since war broke out in Ukraine, the EU has been putting that principle into practice.

It has put together sanctions packages that are unprecedented in scope.

And Germany and the Netherlands are supporting Ukraine with enormous financial and military resources.

Because we’re united in the conviction that the price of peace and stability is always worth paying.

In any country.
And any continent.

In the summer of 2014, I felt the collective power of the EU when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian Buk missile.

298 people lost their lives in the disaster, including 196 Dutch nationals.

For the Netherlands, and for the next of kin, it was crucial that those responsible be brought to justice.

It was only thanks to the unfailing support of our allies that this matter remained on the international agenda.

For us, as a relatively small country, it was one of those moments when you realise just how important it is that you’re part of something bigger. That you’re not alone.

I could name many other moments when Europe has faced times of trial.

Every country has its own stories, and its own history as part of the EU.

And however different our stories may be, the core truth remains the same:

We need each other.

We can’t do it alone.

And most importantly, we don’t have to do it alone.

Thank you.