The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, and his Belgian counterpart, Didier Reynders, are seeking to further deepen bilateral cooperation. Belgium is the Netherlands’ second-largest trading partner after Germany, while the Netherlands is Belgium’s second-largest trading partner. ‘To achieve economic recovery in the Netherlands, we must also strengthen cross-border cooperation and step up trade with nearby markets,’ Mr Timmermans said during a visit to his colleague in Brussels.
The two ministers spoke about the European Council later this month, the multiannual budget of the European Union and the future of the European Monetary Union. They agreed to reinvigorate the Benelux partnership’s role in influencing the course taken by the EU. They also plan to examine ways that the two countries’ network of diplomatic missions can save money by sharing more tasks.
Amplifying the EU’s voice
The ministers would also like the EU to find more common ground, to ensure that it speaks with the strongest possible voice in the global arena, on issues like the situation in Syria and the African Great Lakes region. ‘A strong EU will defend our economic interests and our values, in areas like human rights. A divided EU is a powerless EU,’ Mr Timmermans observed.
In Brussels Mr Timmermans also spoke to the NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to discuss enhanced defence cooperation between NATO countries in times of cutbacks, the situation in Afghanistan and the alliance’s ministerial meeting in December.
Later today in Brussels Mr Timmerman will meet with Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes and Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament. Tomorrow morning Mr Timmermans will speak with Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Asselborn.
Source: Dutch government