Dutch Presidency of the European Union: relevant themes for Greater Manchester

1 January – 30 June 2016

The Dutch have taken over the Presidency of the EU as part of a rotating system amongst the EU member states, and it will pass it onto Slovakia and Malta in July 2016 and January 2017 respectively. This timetable is putting a remarkable amount of pressure on The Netherlands as one of the founding members of the EU and a progressive partner in European integration, to deal with some of the pressing political issues that have grown more urgent in past months. The three countries together have produced a common agenda for the next eighteen months ‘Taking Forward the Strategic Agenda’ and there is also an addition programme dedicated to the Dutch Presidency.

Initially we thought it would be a Presidency with strong focus on urban issues, including urban mobility, social and environmental issues and the circular economy. Although there is no doubt that these areas will continue to happen, they will not be the issues that will be grabbing the headlines in the coming months.

One of the major lines that The Netherlands has adopted throughout its programme of action is ‘ to focus on the essentials’, meaning having a clear task division between the Member states and the EU institutions. The other two major focus of the Presidency will be dealing with some of the most pressing issues of the moment, “jobs and innovative and sustainable growth”, as well as “making better connections” between the institutions in Brussels and the 500 million citizens.

In brief, the Dutch Presidency priorities are:

  1. A comprehensive approach to migration and international security.
  2. Europe as an innovator and job creator.
  3. Sound, future-proof European finances and a robust Eurozone.
  4. Forward-looking policy on energy and climate change.

The main actions that are coming up and are interesting for Greater Manchester are:

  1. New EU Urban Agenda – a Pact of Amsterdam which will better align EU policy with urban practices to help cities contribute more to jobs and growth in Europe.
  2. Cohesion policy – developing further simplification, evaluation of current programme 2014-2020, smart specialisation.
  3. A new skills agenda for Europe.
  4. Joint ministerial meeting with environment and transport ministers in April to discuss ‘smart mobility’ – smart and green transport solutions.
  5. Circular economy package including the waste targets.
  6. Education in the reception and integration of migrants and role of education and youth work in combating youth radicalisation.

For more info on the Dutch Presidency priorities please visit this link.