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.