There is no doubt that the Dutch Presidency will go down as a historic one.
But for reasons which you cannot be blamed.
Six months ago, the main challenge of this Presidency was the migration and refugee crisis and while we can’t say that this crisis is over, we can say that it is more under control than in January.
And this is due in no small part thanks to the diligent work of your Presidency.
Thanks to the professionalism of your officials, and the commitment of your Ministers.
This chamber has benefitted from the good sense of Bert Koenders and from our former colleague Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
As a result you have found agreement on important legislation the new Frontex European Border and Coast Guard, the Fourth Railway Package, Passenger Name Records, Data Protection, and others.
You’ve achieved these agreements NOT by not seeking to deliver an abstract utopian vision but by delivering concrete and practical results that make the EU work better.
The Dutch Presidency has set an example for other Presidencies to follow.
A few years ago Mr Rutte you called for:
“European where necessary, national where possible.”
You admitted that:
“All too often agreements regarding the budget or the democratic rule of law haven’t been respected …
You warned that:
“Europe is more and more being associated with an anonymous, formal and impersonal layer of government where national sovereignty is being replaced by normative rules ‘from Brussels’”.
Those in this house, Commissioners and national leaders
Who are impatient for a European army
Who are impatient for a European FBI
Who are impatient for a European government
Would be wise to heed your words, but also to bear in mind the old Dutch proverb:
“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”
For an EU – with or without the UK – needs to listen to those wise words NOW more than ever.