"The EU needs maintenance"

23rd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 March 2007, AMSTERDAM - There were a few critical notes from Balkenende despite the many positive comments during his speech on Thursday. He said the "house of the EU" was in need of maintenance, in order to remain "one in which people feel at home. A sturdy house with open windows."

23 March 2007

AMSTERDAM - There were a few critical notes from Balkenende despite the many positive comments during his speech on Thursday. He said the "house of the EU" was in need of maintenance, in order to remain "one in which people feel at home. A sturdy house with open windows."

Balkenende spoke in the Ridderzaal at the government buildings in The Hague at the official Dutch celebration of the EU's 50th anniversary.

Queen Beatrix, Prince Constantijn and many Dutch and international invitees took part in the festivities.

Balkenende said in his speech that the EU had helped make our lives better. "The Union can play that role in the coming 50 years as well." The EU, he said, has been called one of the most successful projects in history, and rightly so. Europe may sound abstract and far away "but Europe, that is us. Europe is in us."

The prime minister does not believe that the time of great European ideals is past. He pointed out the plans for clean energy provision and a strong environmentally-conscious economy. But: "ideals are not free. They demand courage, hard work and perseverance."

Balkenende is pleased to see that Dutch youth between the ages of 15 and 25 seem to have the most confidence in the EU. "70 percent of them have confidence in the EU," he said, citing a recent study. "They are far more Europe-minded than the older people." Balkenende hopes we can all learn from that youthful enthusiasm.

The prime minister once again touched on the Dutch wishes for a new European treaty, which the government says is necessary after the rejection of the constitution in 2005. Negotiations on a solution will start in the coming months.

The government thinks that Europe is not the answer to all questions and problems. Many topics can better be dealt with on the national or local level, Balkenende said.

"Our social services for instance, our culture or our pension system." The starting point is a good life for people. "Sometimes we need ‘more' Europe for that. Sometimes we don't," the prime minister said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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