Speaking in Berlin, Mark Rutte took advantage of the bloc’s increasing instability to lay out his own plan for the European Union, which is a far cry from the federalist future envisioned by French president Emmanuel Macron, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and former European Parliament president Martin Schulz.
He said: “The EU is not an unstoppable train, speeding towards federalism…This shouldn’t be our goal.”
Highlighting his preference for “pragmatic cooperation”, he added: “We should be working towards a more perfect Union, not an ever closer one”.
He went on to attack Brussels’ plans to establish a European Monetary Fund (EMF), another device designed to drag member states closer together.
He said: “The EMF should be an institution of the member states, not of the European Commission.
“After all, in the Stability and Growth Pact the Commission fulfils many different roles: it analyses, it proposes legislation, it oversees, and it initiates sanctions.
“Clearly, the Commission’s credibility as the guardian of the euro stands or falls on the strict impartiality with which it applies and enforces the rules.
“This demands the clearest possible separation of roles – checks and balances, and no political assessment.
“That’s why I’ve always been against an ever more political Commission.
“Remember that the European Commission serves the member states, not the other way round.”
He also called for the creation of a mechanism for restructuring the debts of member states in fiscal difficulties so that private investors, not other countries’ taxpayers, should foot the bill if investors “run out of luck.”
Positioning the Netherlands as sceptical of further European integration once more, Mr Rutte said the EU has to accept that the bloc budget will be smaller after Brexit, despite calls from some in Brussels for member states to commit more money to the EU pot.
European Commission Budget Commissioner Mr Oettinger said last month the next longterm budget should be bigger than the the current one, despite Britain’s impending departure.
He said the next budget, which will span between 2021 and 2027, should be increased from one percent of EU gross national income to between 1.1 and 1.2 percent.
Austria’s finance chief has already hit out against plans to expand the budget and insisted, like Mr Rutte, that funding for the bloc’s flagship projects should be cut.
Gernot Blümel, Austria’s finance chief, said: “It can not be that the EU is smaller and that the budget is greater.”
However, EU officials weren’t the only ones in Mr Rutte’s firing line when he spoke in Berlin today as he turned his attention to Brexit with a sly dig at Theresa May ahead of her London speech.
In fact he opened his speech with the line: “You had a choice today. You could have listened to a speech in the UK about a future without Europe.
“Or a speech in Berlin by someone who believes in Europe and wants to talk about the best way to move forward with Europe.”