King Willem-Alexander focused on economic recovery in his speech to parliament on Tuesday, but also spoke of the ‘integrated approach’ needed to tackle the refugee crisis which is ‘creating tensions within Europe.’ The king’s speech, which is written by ministers, marks the start of the new parliamentary year and outlines government policy for the coming period.
‘The Netherlands is well positioned in socio-economic terms,’ the king said. ‘Important sectors such as construction and housing have shown a strong recovery.’ Nevertheless, it is still to early to sit back and relax, he said. ‘Unemployment is too high and many people cannot find work.’ The king also turned to the dangers poised by radicalisation which, he said, is putting pressure on society. ‘We have to prevent this leading to polarisation in our society,’ he said. ‘There will be more money to strengthen preventative policies.’ He referred to ‘people in overloaded boats heading for Europe to request asylum’, which, he said, was due to military conflicts, political instability and poverty. ‘It is creating tensions in Europe which require an integrated approach,’ he said. The situation requires tough choices to limit the ‘stream’, the king said. ‘A tough but just asylum policy in every country… action to counteract human trafficking.’
The king also focused on the Netherlands’ role as rotating EU president in the first six months of next year. Public safety and migration will be key to this, the king said, ‘in order to protect our shared values’.
The situation in Greece and the British referendum on EU membership would also be important aspects of the Dutch presidency, he said. The Netherlands, he concluded, is a stable and attractive land to live in, but it requires effort to ensure this situation continues.