Prime Minister Rutte: make Europe more competitive

In his meeting yesterday with Herman van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, Prime Minister Mark Rutte called for a strong, competitive Europe, particularly in the light of the rapid economic emergence of countries like China, India and Brazil.

'I even believe that this emergence holds many opportunities for Europe. But we won't get them on a silver platter. Across the board, Europeans will have to continue working for longer and be more innovative,' Mr Rutte said after the meeting. He added that the Netherlands would be keen to take part in a broader European effort 'provided that all member states meet clear conditions on strict budgetary discipline and a robust labour market policy.'

Mr Rutte also emphasised that the Netherlands wants a structural response to the eurozone crisis, so that EU budget rules can be enforced and the stability of the euro guaranteed.

Afghanistan

At what was their first meeting in The Hague, Mr Rutte and Mr Van Rompuy also discussed the Netherlands' plans to contribute to the police training mission in Afghanistan.

'Mr Van Rompuy again confirmed that the Dutch contribution would be very welcome,' the prime minister said. Mr Van Rompuy said the mission is 'crucial' for the development of the Afghan police and the rule of law, with the ultimate aim of transferring responsibility for safety and security to the Afghans themselves.