Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the seventh EU leader to debate the future of Europe with MEPs today.

Rutte emphasised EU unity and threats to the multilateral system in his speech. But some of his proposals were divisive and unilateral such as the speeding up of forced return of refugees, in violation of international law, and a militarised EU, sacrificing the social rights of EU citizens. 

GUE/NGL vice-President Dennis de Jong (Socialistische Partij, Netherlands) highlighted these inconsistencies in his response:

“Mr Rutte, you put the markets at the core of your speech. You did so even when talking about the security and safety of citizens and the rule of law. This emphasis is a mistake. The reality is that more than half of all wealth is concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent, with 99 percent of the people having to divide the rest. What are you doing for them?”

“It is important to focus on taxation and the fight against tax evasion. Young people do not have the same opportunities their parents had. Even equal pay for equal work falls short in the latest directives, dealing insufficiently with pensions in the country of origin and trampling on the rights of international road transport drivers, who are protesting outside.”

De Jong called for citizens’ concerns to be listened to in order to solve the key problems Europe is facing:  

“Many people see themselves as victims of globalisation; they feel marginalised and excluded from its benefits. The solution lies in addressing the root causes of these problems. For example, BlackRock, an American financial firm, manages $6.3 trillion in assets and exerts undue influence and control over the pensions of EU citizens. How can we allow this to happen?”

“We want a Europe of solidarity and sustainability. This does not only mean regulating the markets, but a truly social Europe, and a social protocol for workers, for which the trade unions are fighting. Only a Europe of solidarity will move us forward.”

MEP Anja Hazekamp (Partij voor de Dieren, Netherlands) took the Dutch Prime Minister to task over his promises on the environment:

“Mr. Rutte, you said that the EU should promise less and deliver more. You advocated for a 55 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to 30 percent. I commend you for this. Yet, the Netherlands continues its dependence on natural gas, which does not only cause weekly earth tremors in Groningen but does nothing to advance our commitments in the Paris Agreement.”   

“Likewise, the Netherlands is failing to reach the UN Sustainable Development goals due to prevalence of poverty, lack of investment in renewable energy, and weak support for organic farming.”

“The reality is that your government is doing little to tackle these problems. For example, the derogation for manure that the Netherlands has insisted on in Brussels, puts additional pressure on organic farmers, perpetuates animal suffering, and pollutes the environment,” Hazekamp concluded.

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