The Netherlands holds EU presidency for 6 months in 2016
From January 1 to June 30, 2016 the Netherlands holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and during this period will be able to steer the course of EU legislative and political processes.
The Council is a gathering of ministers from the 28 EU member states, and their main purpose is to adopt proposals for new laws and to coordinate EU policy.
At present, more than half of new Dutch laws originate at the European level. These are mainly regulations for the protection of the environment, transport, communication and security.
Themes of the Dutch presidency
In addition to influencing EU legislative and political processes, the presidency also provides an opportunity to spotlight issues that are important to the Netherlands. The themes of the Dutch presidency are:
› A Union focused on essentials
The Netherlands believes the EU must focus on areas that will make Europe stronger, such as prosperity, freedom and security.
The EU should not involve itself in matters that the member states are perfectly capable of dealing with themselves, such as health care, education, pensions and taxes.
› A Union focused on growth and jobs
The Netherlands wants to achieve this by, for example:
-removing obstacles for companies that want to do business in other member states
-making trade agreements
-protecting workers more effectively against exploitation and unfair competition
› A Union that connects with citizens
The Netherlands would like to improve the relationship between the EU and its citizens, so that Europeans will identify more with EU decisions. The aim is to give citizens, companies and civil society organisations a more active role in the presidency.
18-month plan for Europe
The Presidency of the Council of the EU rotates every six months. Member states take turns holding the presidency. This will be the Netherlands' 12th term, the last time the country held the presidency was in 2004.
The EU member states that will hold the next three presidencies of the EU Council (known collectively as the Trio Presidency) have drawn up an 18-month agenda to ensure that, in addition to the immediate challenges the EU is facing, other important issues will receive the necessary attention and commitment with a more long-term approach.
It is clear that the challenge of migration and refugees will remain high on the agenda for the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese presidencies, which will cover the period from January 2016 to June 2017. As the December European Council underlined, steps to strengthen the EU’s external borders will be a top priority.
The agenda will also include the future development of the Common European Asylum System, work on relocation, resettlement, return and readmission, stepping up efforts to combat human trafficking, and developing measures related to legal migration.
The three Presidencies will be guided by five priorities:
- a Union of jobs, growth and competitiveness
- a Union that empowers and protects all its citizens
- working towards an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy
- a Union of freedom, security and justice
- a Union as a strong global actor