Toespraak minister-president Rutte bij de denktank Carnegie in Bikaner House in Delhi, India
Deze toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking you and Carnegie India for this opportunity to speak today. Andrew Carnegie was a firm supporter of international cooperation as a way to promote peace and prosperity. In fact, he once wrote, 'I am drawn more to this cause than to any.' Carnegie financed the construction of the Peace Palace in my hometown, The Hague, which is now a symbol of international efforts to promote peace and justice. He is also, of course, the spiritual father of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It is fitting that, after Washington, Moscow, Beirut, Beijing and Brussels, the latest center, opened in 2016, should be located in New Delhi. After all, India is taking a bigger and bigger role on the world stage. Your expertise and know-how is crucial to current thinking on international cooperation and foreign policy.
The Carnegie Centers are dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations. That's precisely the reason I've come to India with my fellow ministers and so many companies. They, like me, the Netherlands Confederation of Industry and Employers and the Confederation of Indian Industry, are firmly committed to stepping up cooperation between our countries, and between India and the European Union.
In fact, it may be more fitting to speak of a revival in the cooperation between our countries. You see, back in the 17th century the Netherlands and India enjoyed close and wide-ranging contacts. It was an era in which a once-hidden world began to open up, and new connections were forged. It was a golden age not only for the Netherlands, but also for India. So it made perfect sense that we discovered each other as partners in business and trade.
But there was also a cultural curiosity between us. Rembrandt, the most famous of all Dutch painters, found inspiration in Indian art and copied several miniatures shipped back by Dutch merchants. And in turn the Indian painter Kesu Das was inspired by Flemish prints.
Today, we have reached a level of globalisation that our 17th-century ancestors could not have imagined. Today, we can connect with a place thousands of kilometres away in a fraction of a second. In such a globalised world, isn't it a shame that we aren't more familiar with each other? Although Prime Minister Modi and I pay each other regular visits, it would be good if our countries and citizens could be more on each other's radar.
I believe this is a missed opportunity, because India and the Netherlands are natural partners. Or, to give a more equal comparison in terms of size, India and Europe are natural partners. We share fundamental values. We believe in democracy, in strong institutions and in free, open and fair world trade.
The EU is India's largest foreign trading partner and source of investment. And yet, the EU isn't really on the radar of the Indian public, media or politicians. In fact, one constant in any Indian policy scenario is the absence of the EU.
Likewise, India is still largely absent from the strategic agenda of the EU and its member states. That's a mistake. By 2025 or 2030, your country's population will be bigger than any other in the world. And India is currently the world's fastest-growing major economy. India has truly begun to realise its economic potential.
In the long term, these mutual blind spots pose a risk for Europe, the Netherlands, and India alike. If we work together we can achieve so much more in areas like security, the economy and sustainability.
I don't believe we lack ambition. But we do lack sufficient investment in our partnership. I pledge here today that I will make a personal investment in the EU-India relationship. We in the Netherlands want to bridge this gap. And I believe we can pave the way for the rest of Europe. It's time for a 21st-century revival of the Spice Route.
We can fulfil that role because of our strong position in the EU, and because we are champions of free trade and sound economic policy. The Netherlands is one of the EU's founding members, and when the UK leaves we will be its fifth-largest economy. As the biggest of the 'small' countries, we have a leading role to play. It is up to us to unite European countries in the cause of economic liberalism. We are ready to play that role.
Within the EU, the Netherlands is a firm supporter of budgetary and fiscal responsibility. We think it's crucial to raise the competitiveness of the entire eurozone. And I know that in India we have a like-minded partner. After all, only a European Union with a strong and competitive economy can be an effective partner for India.
For me, the basic promise of the EU lies in its member states working together to rise to a higher level of stability, security and prosperity. The EU can only fulfil that promise if its individual member states are strong, preserve their own identity and bear responsibility for their own actions. In my view, solidarity above all means that each eurozone government has a duty to maintain, protect, and even fight for the competitiveness of its economy. My idea of a well-performing EU doesn't involve member states simply compensating for each other's weaknesses.
The Netherlands wants the EU member states to stick to the agreements they've made. That means reforming their economies. Everyone needs to keep their own house in order, and in a true emergency good neighbours must help each other out. European rescue funds are not 'first aid'. They are a last resort. We want to transform the European Stability Mechanism into an intergovernmental European Monetary Fund, which can function both as an emergency mechanism and an early-warning system. We also support the establishment of a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism, in order to prevent the public from carrying private risk.
The Netherlands is a firm advocate of a level playing field for free trade, both within the EU and with third countries. We are a small maritime nation, so free trade is in our DNA. Thanks to our strategic position, we are also a key gateway to Europe for Indian products. Even now, 20 per cent of India's exports to Europe pass through Schiphol Airport and the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. And our position as India's European hub will only be bolstered by Brexit.
We believe that protectionism stands in the way of progress and innovation. If international trade is free and fair, there's added value for everybody. So I believe a comprehensive and ambitious free trade and investment agreement between the EU and India is long overdue. Now that the EU economies are all growing fast again, it's time to make progress on this agreement, with due consideration for India's new economic policy and the need for investment protection. It would give a major boost to trade figures between the EU and India.
Of course, as we work to increase prosperity, we also have to consider how to minimise damage to our planet. I applaud India's increasing leadership on climate change, as shown by Prime Minister Modi's Clean India initiative. And more and more, Europe's political leaders are recognising that the time to act is now. But we both need partners. So let's make use of each other's knowledge in areas like waste management, wastewater treatment, biodiversity and renewable energy - to name only a few. The International Solar Alliance, which we joined today, is a case in point.
Peace and security are the basis for our peoples' prosperity. That means India and the EU also need to work together to prevent and combat terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism, which threaten Europe as much as India. The Netherlands is supporting India in its goal to step up its regional capacity and to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open and rules-based. The EU and India are united in efforts to keep vital shipping lanes between two of the world's largest trading blocs open and secure. And we both support UN reform, which includes making the Security Council more representative. In the Netherlands' view, India is an obvious candidate for a permanent seat on an expanded Council. In fact, it's incredible in this day and age that India isn't yet a permanent member.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's clear that India and the EU have a great deal to offer each other. As champions of free trade, sustainable growth and healthy finances, we should be joining hands. So let us, in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie, make international cooperation our top priority. Let us, like Rembrandt and Kesu Das, show curiosity towards each other. And let India and Europe rediscover each other, as natural partners on the path to a secure, prosperous and sustainable future.