Looking back at the Dutch EU presidency

On the 1st of July, The Dutch have passed on the baton to Slovakia as the President of the Council of the European Union. EUKN wishes the Slovakian presidency a highly productive and successful term in office.

Looking back, the Dutch EU presidency (which ran from the 1st of January until the 30th of June 2016) can be summarised as a huge success despite the fact that the Dutch presidency saw several big challenges, including the current migrant crisis, terrorist threats and the rise of Euroscepticism all throughout Europe. The Dutch presidency did mark a major achievement with the adoption of the Pact of Amsterdam on the 30th of May leading towards an Urban Agenda for the EU. The Urban Agenda for the EU will become an important tool in establishing better regulations, better funding and better knowledge sharing for cities in Europe.

Besides the Urban Agenda for the EU, the Dutch EU presidency contributed to numerous topics in the fields of migration, security, finance, climate, innovation and healthcare. Some prime examples:

  • Compact migration agreements with African countries to tackle the root causes of migration
  • EU agreements for strengthening the European single market
  • Stricter rules on the possession and sale of firearms in Europe
  • Agreements on exchange of information to tackle tax fraud and tax avoidance
  • Agreement between member states to jointly ratify the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Support the EU transition to a circular economy
  • Agreements on healthier food and new rules for medical devices
  • Migration deal with Turkey. Although still very controversial, less people have since traversed the dangerous migration route via Greece.
  • New financial agreement with Greece

The EUKN is proud to have contributed to the Dutch EU presidency on various levels. This includes our involvement in DG and UDG meetings, as well as managing the official Urban Agenda for the EU website (www.urbanagendaforthe.eu). The EUKN has also produced and published the Urban Agenda for the EU ‘State of Play’ document. The State of Play was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and has been one of the building blocks in working towards an EU Urban Agenda. The State of Play outlines the shared conceptual framework in progress on urban development in European cities. It builds upon the idea of what future urban development in the EU should be based on, and what steps have been taken so far to realise this. Finally, The EUKN has also contributed to the pilot partnerships of the Urban Agenda for the EU, which will remain an important cornerstone to the implementation of the Urban Agenda priority points.   

Looking forward, Slovakia too enters a challenging phase during their period as EU president. First and foremost they will have to deal with the aftermath of the Brexit referendum as well as the continuously pressing matter of the migrant and refugee crisis.

Slovakia has set up four main priorities for their EU presidency term:

 

  • Economically strong Europe
  •  Modern single market
  • Sustainable migration and asylum policies
  •  Globally engaged Europe

The four priorities are driven by three interconnected principles: Achieving tangible results, overcoming fragmentation and focusing on the citizen. With the last principle, the Slovak Presidency aims to restore citizens' confidence in the common European project. 

With the start of the Slovak Presidency, the EUKN will continue their support for the presidency itself, the pilot partnerships and the Urban Agenda for the EU. For more information on the Dutch EU Presidency, you can read the E-Zine outlining the main steps and results in the past six months. For more on the Slovak Presidency, visit their official website: http://www.eu2016.sk/en