The Netherland’s King Willem-Alexander on Wednesday addressed the plenary meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels in connection with the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders was also present for the occasion.
It was the first time that the King had addressed the European Parliament since his inauguration in 2013. During the Netherlands’ last EU Presidency, in 2004, Queen Beatrix also spoke in the European Parliament.
In his speech the King talked about the importance of European collaboration. “Great things are rarely achieved at purely national level,” he said. ‘The deeper we dig, the more we see how interwoven the roots of our countries and cultures are.”
At the same time the King emphasized that the citizens of member states should feel at home in the European Union.
“The EU must not be an elitist project. Our Union needs to speak to those who wish to travel further afield and those who prefer to stay at home.”
Before his speech the King spoke first with European Parliament President Martin Schulz and then with the chairs of the Parliament’s political groups. After his speech he met with Dutch MEPs.
The King’s visit to Brussels concluded with a meeting at the Dutch Permanent Representation to the European Union, where he exchanged views with its staff and with staff of the Dutch embassy to Belgium. They spoke about the EU Presidency, policy issues and staff members’ personal experiences.