Firstly, there is the split between Jean-Claude Juncker's Commission and the member nations of the EU27. Juncker wants far greater powers for the EU, an army, a finance ministry, EU embassies replacing national embassies, a political Commission with a permanent appointed President and so on. The nations of the EU27, including France and Germany, do not. The fissure has come to a head most recently over two matters too late for the Spiegel interview - the corrupt appointment of Martin Selmayr, Juncker's former gofer, as head of the EU bureaucracy, and Juncker's fawning anilingual congratulations to Putin. Guy Verhofstadt and the EP are genuinely furious about the first, and yesterday Verhofstadt upbraided Juncker for his message to Putin being at odds with the response of individual EU27 leaders. Rutte makes clear he stands with national, and not EU, sovereignty - "Europe must be built upon the foundation of its nation-states, and not imposed upon us by Brussels" he said, and "The Commission should serve the EU members, not the other way around". He is also unhappy that Juncker thinks he has power to break the EU's rules for 'political' reasons - i.e. the solidarity of the EU.
"Juncker is an outstanding Commission president, but when he repeatedly insists that the Commission is political, I have to object. The moment the Commission gives the impression that it strictly ensures that small countries respect the stability pact but does not apply the same oversight to Italy and France, it undermines the rules that we have agreed upon together."Again, one can only speculate that the commonly heard mantra "Juncker is an outstanding Commission president but ..." actually means "Juncker is a blundering drunken old fool who's fucked up again".
Rutte is equally scornful of Franco-German stitchups;
SPIEGEL "..it was primarily Germany and France that were the driving forces: Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac agreed to suspend the stability pact for their two countries ..."Again, events have over-run the print scale; Sarkozy was arrested yesterday for fraud, joining Christine Lagarde and Juncker himself as leading EU figures who have to answer charges of fraud, corruption and criminality.
RUTTE: " ... and then came the sequel a few years later when Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy took their famous beach stroll in Deauville during the euro crisis. Both events sparked a great deal of suspicion and mistrust. When not only Germany and France are in agreement, but also the Commission, then the other EU countries have to be extremely careful."
One point on which Rutte will find universal agreement with the UK is over the EU's protectionist labour laws. Just as protectionist trade tariffs make EU manufacturing sclerotic and glacial in responding to modernisation - they're years behind in AI, for example - so protectionist EU trade qualification laws prevent Europe's service sector responding to market needs. No English ski instructor can get a job in France, no English hairdresser can style hair in Austria and no English car mechanic change a wheel in Italy.
Rather than the EU's net contributors paying even more post-Brexit, Rutte wants to see more market deregulation;
"What Europe is missing is not billions more in funding, but rather overdue structural reforms -- including in the service industry. There are currently nearly 5,000 protected professions in the EU and in Germany. This hinders growth, as any economist will tell you."It also hinders innovation. Hairdressers here must serve a three-year apprenticeship and the result is standardised women's hairstyles that would not be out of place in Soviet east Germany. Girls in their twenties wear the hair of women in their fifties. In the UK any girl of sixteen can pick up a comb and scissors and the result - the disasters aside - is a fashion, music and culture industry of a strength and vibrancy that poor protected EU27ers can only dream about. We really are better off out.