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German-Dutch government consultations

A chance to find a solidarity-based solution in Europe

Now that the numbers of asylum-seekers entering Europe have dropped, Chancellor Angela Merkel sees a chance to achieve a solidarity-based solution within the EU, as she stressed following a meeting the Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Eindhoven.

Chancellor Angela Merkel walks with Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Sigmar Gabriel, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Henk Kamp, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs. Innovation was the focus of the German-Dutch government consulations in Eindhoven Foto: Bundesregierung/Kugler

The governments of the two countries were meeting there for consultations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked the Dutch EU Presidency for its commitment in conjunction with the EU-Turkey Agreement. It was very much thanks to Prime Minister Mark Rutte that the agreement was reached and that it is now being implemented step by step, said the Chancellor.

Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte met prior to government consultations to discuss bilateral relations, and European and international matters.

A sign that the EU can act

With respect to protecting the EU’s external borders too, the Dutch Presidency had brought about a swift agreement. This was one central point in efforts to achieve managed migration, said Angela Merkel. "I believe that this is an important sign that the European Union is able to act." Now that the number of asylum-seekers coming to Europe has dropped, she continued, "we have a chance to find solidarity-based, pan-European solutions".

Strengthening innovation in Europe

The focus of the German-Dutch government negotiations in Eindhoven was innovation. Before the consultations began, the two heads of government visited young engineers at a local company and the High Tech Campus. Germany and the Netherlands demonstrated in this way how committed they are to innovation, declared the Chancellor, "especially because Europe’s prosperity depends on it".

The Dutch company ASML is the world’s leading manufacturer of machinery for chip production. It manufactures 80 per cent of chip production machinery in the world, in close cooperation with the German company Zeiss in Oberkochen, explained the Chancellor. Here it is again clear, "that we must foster and support strategic branches of industry in Europe". The appropriate frameworks are now being developed.

Close relations

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister also spoke about relations between the two countries. Angela Merkel said they were very close. "We have what you might call a close link on matters like Russia, Ukraine, Syria and other European activities," she said.

Following the meeting of heads of government a plenary session was held.

Alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Head of the Federal Chancellery Peter Altmaier and State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Georg Schütte attended the plenary session. The Dutch side was represented by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders, Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp and State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, Sander Dekker.

"Four Freedoms Award" for Angela Merkel

At mid-day Angela Merkel was presented with the "Four Freedoms Award" in Middelburg. Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented the Chancellor with the award in recognition of her leadership in the crises of the last few years. He cited the examples of the financial crisis and the current refugee crisis.

The annual award goes to individuals or groups whose achievements demonstrate a commitment to the "four freedoms" that US President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated as goals in his speech to the US Congress on 6 January 1941: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

"Freedom engenders new responsibility"

This award is a huge and extraordinary honour, said Angela Merkel in her acceptance speech. "Roosevelt’s vision must not remain theoretical," said the Chancellor. "Freedom engenders new responsibility – for ourselves, for others and for the common good." Angela Merkel stressed that Germany once brought unspeakable suffering to the world, but today is a respected member of the international community. "We have our place in Europe. We will always be grateful for this."

The Roosevelt Foundation’s "Four Freedoms Award" was first awarded in 1982 to mark what would have been Roosevelt’s 100th birthday and the 200th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and the Netherlands. The prize is awarded alternately to a US citizen and a non-American. Previous laureates include Harry S. Truman, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.

Donnerstag, 21. April 2016