Statement Prime Minister Rutte after the informal European Council in Salzburg

Today, Prime Minister Rutte was present at an informal meeting of the European Council in Salzburg about internal security and the Brexit negotiations.

Rutte: 'Today, I’ve been in Salzburg for an informal meeting of the European Council where two important issues were discussed. The first was internal security. This covers a range of topics, from tackling radicalisation and terrorism to cybersecurity. For the Netherlands, the key principle in many areas is that more coordination is needed. After all, criminals and terrorists don’t care about national borders. But more coordination should not mean more bureaucracy. Lots of issues can be resolved by improving cooperation between countries and existing EU institutions.

Second, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed us on the state of negotiations. Progress has been made, but we’re still far from done. The negotiators must push ahead and look for common ground. This includes on the withdrawal agreement itself – where the discussion on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is still a sticking point – and on the political declaration on the nature of the UK and EU’s future relationship.

The UK’s white paper on exiting the EU and our future relationship is a positive development. But much remains to be done. The challenge ahead of us will be to reach an as ambitious an agreement as possible without infringing the conditions set by the EU, including the integrity of the single market. It’s in everyone’s interest that we reach an agreement and that we avoid a no-deal Brexit. Mr Barnier has our full backing in that regard.

Yesterday evening the issue of migration was also discussed. I was unable to be there myself due to the Parliamentary Debate on the Speech from the Throne. But Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel made excellent work of speaking on the Netherlands’ behalf and I’m very grateful to him for doing so.

What’s clear is that we’re working on an approach based on the agreements made in the European Council in June. These are: tackling the root causes of migration, strengthening the EU’s external borders, making agreements on the disembarkation of migrants – on both the North African and Southern European coasts – and reforming the common asylum system. Part of the comprehensive approach we’re advocating. The central issue for the Netherlands is that everyone takes responsibility in all these areas. We’ll return to this discussion at the European Council meeting in October.'

Ministry responsible