Sweden's new EU Minister Hans Dahlgren, of the ruling centre-left Social Democrat party, on Tuesday met Michael Stibbe, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's closest EU adviser.
The meeting in The Hague was Dahlgren's first bilateral foreign trip of this kind.
“The UK has in the past been the country with whom we have had the closest contact, in the sense that it is the country that has voted most like Sweden in the EU. We now have to look for allies in several other countries and the Netherlands is among the top of the list,” Dahlgren told Swedish newswire TT.
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Asked by TT why Sweden is seeking a partnership with the Dutch, he said:
“We are very like-minded on many important issues. Take for example the EU budget where we are both keen to keep spending down. When the UK leaves the EU we have to cut our coat according to our cloth and get a fair distribution of the fees that [member states] have to pay to the union.”
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Among the issues where Sweden and the Netherlands could find consensus, Dahlgren listed more focus on “modern spending areas” such as research, development and migration, and less focus on traditional structural funds and agricultural policies. Climate issues are also big topics in both countries.
“It's also about developing the single market, which both the Netherlands and Sweden as large export countries are very dependent on,” said Dahlgren.
One key issue, however, where the countries do not agree is the single European currency, of which the Netherlands was one of the founding members. Sweden has not yet adopted the Euro.