Thursday, 5 February 2015 - 15:57
Jobs, growth & innovation: Dutch goals for 2016 EU Presidency
The cabinet submitted a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, in late January outlining the Netherlands priorities for its turn as President of the Council of the European Union in 2016. The three main priorities are a Union that focuses on the essentials, creates jobs and growth through innovation and actively involves citizens and civil society organizations in policymaking. Aiming for lasting improvements in the quality of legislation, making it simpler and more workable, and for a reduction in the administrative burden and associated costs are key points in the country's plans. "Upholding the rule of law and freedom of expression are essential issues that the Netherlands wishes to focus on," writes Foreign Minister Bert Koenders in the letter. Koenders says the cabinet wants to see European-wide job creation and growth, but also removing obstacles to innovation within the Union. He says the Netherlands will push to strengthen the digital economy, encourage national policy reform and promote a society that renews and challenges itself, thus creating job opportunities and growth in all markets. The third main priority is to encourage people to get actively involved with the EU decision making and let the citizens and civil organizations see that their views have been heard. The government wants to firmly connect the EU with its citizenry and strengthen the democratic legitimacy and transparency in decision making. "This means a Union that is based on fundamental values and is supported by its citizens." Said Minister Koenders. The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of EU, the upper house of EU legislature. The length of the term is six months and the current president is Latvia.