THE HAGUE – Red lines and missed records

After the EU summit, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the outcome of the negotiations was within the Dutch red lines, especially with the governance model attached to the deal, which would give the Netherlands and all other member states the option to trigger an “emergency brake” on payments if they believe a government hasn’t fulfilled its reform promises.

This was also in the European Commission’s interest, he said: “The Commission also sees that the emergency brake helps them to make the necessary arrangements with countries,” Rutte told reporters.

Asked about how the general mood has been, especially after reports of many leaders having lashed out against his rather rogue position during the summit, Rutte said he would be still on good terms with all leaders although the atmosphere had sometimes been “tense”.

“These are all professionals,” he told reporters.

On a lighter note, Rutte refused to acknowledge the “historic” agreement, like some other EU leaders, as according to him the summit fell 20 minutes short of setting a new record for the longest-ever European Council, still held by the 2000 Nice summit.

In order to break the Nice record, the summit would have had to continue until 6:05 am, but talks wrapped up at 5:45 am, he told reporters.

“I did ask Charles Michel whether I should just talk a bit longer, and everybody was laughing,” Rutte said. “Then Italian PM Giuseppe Conte asked to have the floor and spoke for quite a long time, so I thought we’re still going to make it – but in the end, we finished earlier.”

(Alexandra Brzozowski,


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