Dutch Presidency: Priorities [Archived]

The priorities of the Dutch presidency are further EU enlargements, justice and home affairs, giving the EU a wider role in external relations, the sustainable growth of the European economy and the financial perspectives for the period 2007-2013.

The Dutch centre-right government of Jan Peter Balkenende has taken over the EU Presidency from 1 July 2004. It has done so in a very crucial, but difficult period. A big task will be to help the new Member States to integrate effectively into the Council's decision-making processes. The Presidency will have no real policy counterpart in the first half of its Presidency as the new Parliament and the new Commission (from 1 November) will take time to settle in.

The Dutch presidency motto is "realism and ambition".


Issues 
The Dutch have set five priorities for their Presidency of the EU Council of ministers:

Enlargement
The Dutch are aiming to conclude negotiations with Romania and Bulgaria. The decision whether or not to start negotiations with Turkey is due to be taken during the December European Council.

Justice and Home Affairs
The so-called "Tampere II" agenda (2004-2009) will be drafted and decided upon during the Dutch Presidency. The Dutch will intensify the EU's initiatives to fight terrorism, based on the report of new 'terrorism czar' Gijs de Vries. They will re-orient the discussion on the common asylum system to deal with integration policies instead of just minimum norms.

External relations
The Dutch aim to give the EU a more effective role in the world. They will focus their action on four areas:

  • deepening relations with Asia’s emerging market economies while promoting human rights and good governance in the region (four EU/Asia summits are planned: EU/South Korea, EU/India, EU/China and ASEM (the Asia-Europe Meeting)
  • helping to resolve the Middle East conflict and intensifying relations with the Wider Middle East
  • making multilateralism effective by trying to enhance the role, the duties and the powers of the UN Secretary-General,
  • developping the European Security and Defence Policy (attention to focus on first major EU-led crisis management operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and further development of military and civilian capabilities).

Lisbon agenda

The Dutch Presidency wants to advance the Lisbon process by focussing on reducing administrative burdens for industry. The former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Wim Kok, is chairing a high-level group on the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy. The group has been asked to provide the Commission with a report by November, containing suggestions on how to give new impetus to the Lisbon process. The Wim Kok mid-term review report will be discussed during the November European Council in order to prepare for the work of the 2005 Luxembourg Presidency in this area. The Commission will use the report to prepare its proposals for the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy in 2005.

Financial perspectives
T he Member States started their discussions on the new Financial Perspective (2007 - 2013) in the second half of 2004. The outcome of these negotiations, which have to be concluded in 2005, will determine the size of its multi-annual budget, the policies and matching structure of its annual budget and how the Union’s own financial resources will be organised. 

Following the low turnout in the European elections, the Presidency will also take on the initiative launched by the Irish Presidency on "Communicating Europe" to enhance public support for European integration. The Presidency will also sponsor a series of conferences on Europe's identity and values.

 

Amnesty International calls on the Dutch EU Presidency to "inject new vitality into the EU human rights agenda, by putting real pressure at the highest level on governments which allow human rights violations to occur". It wants the proposed EU Human Rights Agency to concentrate on human rights compliance within the EU, and the appointment of an EU Special Representative for Human Rights to improve delivery on human rights goals around the world.

For BEUC, the consumer priorities for the Dutch Presidency are chemicals (REACH), health and nutrition claims, food fortification, nutrition in general, unfair commercial practices and consumer credit.

For the Social platform, one priority is whether the Presidency will defend the social elements of the Lisbon strategy. Social NGOs are concerned that the Lisbon strategic goal is being dominated by a predominant focus on growth, at the expense of social cohesion and employment. Other key areas where social NGOs are challenging the Dutch government to act include the fight against discrimination and gender inequality, the strengthening of the EU’s social inclusion strategy, and, critically, ensuring that the financial framework of the EU for the coming years will allow sufficient funds to achieve the EU’s social objectives.

 

  • 5 November: European Council - two priorities: a new programme for Justice and Home Affairs and the Lisbon process (Wim Kok report)
  • 17 December: European Council - further EU enlargements (Bulgaria and Romania, Turkey and Croatia) and the adoption of gudelines and principles for the financial perspectives 2007-2013 will top the agenda
  • 1 January 2005: start of the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU

The following Presidencies of the EU have been planned for the next few years:

  • 1 January - 30 June 2005 - Luxembourg's Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 July - 31 December 2005 - British Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 January - 30 June 2006 - Austrian Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 July - 31 December 2006 - Finnish Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 January - 30 June 2007 - German Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 July - 31 December 2007 - Portuguese Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 January - 30 June 2008 - French Presidency of the EU,
  • 1 July - 31 December 2008 - Swedish Presidency of the EU.

 

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