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European Union: The Netherlands in Charge of EU Presidency

(Jan. 29, 2016) On January 1, 2016, the Netherlands took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union and will be in charge of the Council agenda for the next six months. (The Netherlands and the EU Presidency, Netherlands EU Presidency 2016 website (last visited Jan. 29, 2016).)  The 2009 Lisbon EU Treaty introduced the system of three EU Members, called “the trio,” holding the Presidency, with each Member assuming the lead role in sequence.  Thus, on July 1, 2016, the next trio Member State, Slovakia, will assume the Presidency, and then Malta, the third trio Member State, will take a turn beginning on January 1, 2017.  (The Presidency of the Council of the EU, Consilium website (last visited Jan. 29, 2016).)

The Netherlands, which has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU 11 times between 1960 and 2004, has already established an ambitious work program that focuses on four key areas: migration and international security, sound finances and a strong Eurozone, Europe as an innovator and job creator, and future climate and energy policy. (Id.)

Migration has been a critical issue for the EU and its Member States in view of the impact of the unprecedented influx of migrants in 2014 and 2015. The Netherlands intends to work towards creating better reception facilities for asylum seekers and ensuring that Member States distribute the burden of refugees more evenly.  The Presidency also will focus on joint actions by EU Members and will address the roots of the migration crisis. (The Netherlands and the EU Presidency, supra.)

On finances, the Netherlands plan to initiate a debate on a reformed multiannual budget. In light of the austere reforms that many Member States have endured in their domestic budgets, administration, pension programs, and so on, the Netherlands will continue working to ensure compliance with Eurozone agreements to boost the use of the euro as a single currency.  (Id.)

On the question of the EU as an innovator and job creator, the Presidency will focus on structural growth and innovation. The Presidency will work with EU Members to facilitate the entry of entrepreneurs into the EU and increasing the sectors open to investment in the EU by eliminating barriers, cutting red tape, and simplifying rules.  The Netherlands will also support the conclusion of balanced trade agreements while at the same time protecting the rights of workers against unfair competition.  (Id.)

Finally, in the area of future climate and energy policy, “the Netherlands is committed to a coherent approach to issues concerning the climate, the environment and sustainability.” It will also continue endorsing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and a European Energy Union.  (Id.; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), United Nations Development Programme website (last visited, Jan. 29, 2016).)