World

Benelux, Baltic and Nordic leaders meet ahead of EU summit

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told leaders from Baltic and Nordic nations Wednesday that he wants to work together with their countries to help tackle pressing European problems such as mass migration in a post-Brexit European Union.

"Vital national interests are at stake. And we will need to adapt to a European Union without our British partner at the table," Rutte said before a working dinner in The Hague with the prime ministers of Belgium, Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden as well as the president of Lithuania and senior officials from Finland and Denmark. The leaders are meeting ahead of Thursday's EU summit in Brussels.

The Dutch leader identified migration and asylum policy as key challenges, along with job creation and foreign policy.

"The instability at our borders and the geopolitical challenges posed by an assertive Russia and the new leadership in the U.S. underline the need for Europe to step up its efforts on foreign policy and defense," he said.

Wednesday evening's meeting in The Hague follows similar discussions in Warsaw between leaders of the so-called Benelux countries — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — and four central European nations, as countries across the continent seek common ground in the post-Brexit European Union.