On 1st January, the Netherlands assumed presidency of the European Council for a six month term. In its work programme, the Netherlands has pinpointed the key areas it will focus on during its Presidency. These are: (1) migration and international security; (2) sound finances and a robust Eurozone, (3) Europe as an innovator and job creator, and (4) forward-looking climate change and energy policy. Interlinked with these focus areas are the three basic principles that will guide the Netherlands Presidency – a Union that focuses on the essentials, a Union that creates innovative growth and jobs, and a Union that connects with society.
Dealing with the current migration crisis is a prime topic mentioned throughout the work programme of the Netherlands Presidency. The threats on the external borders are linked with greater risks inside the EU. It will be necessary to find an appropriate response. The Netherlands suggests that creating stronger links between internal and external policy could be a starting point. A priority of the Netherlands Presidency will be to more effectively control Europe’s external borders, improve the initial reception of refugees in Europe and in the region, and share the burden fairly amongst EU Member States.
To enhance the security of the European Union, the Netherlands will seek to accelerate the elaboration and implementation of the migration package and the early completion of the strategic review of the EU Foreign and Security Policy. The Netherlands will make sure that the themes of security and defence are firmly embedded in future European defence cooperation and related legislation. An over-arching aim of the Netherlands Presidency will be to contribute to a safer, more just and future-proof world.
The Netherlands Presidency work programme is available here.