Dutch EU presidency comes to an end

The Netherlands' presidency of the European Union has come to an end. From today Slovakia is the new president. On Thursday EU council president Donald Tusk thanked Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the term, which which was not the easiest time to be president, with the asylum crisis, the Ukraine referendum and the Brexit referendum to deal with.

This was the 12th time the Netherlands was president of the EU. Six months ago Rutte stat he was aiming for a pragmatic presidency. "Europe has no need for great visions." The Netherlands wanted "to solve problems, untie knots and create tempo." During its term the Netherlands led 1,500 meetings with ministers, diplomats and officials.

And according to diplomats in Brussels, the Dutch generally dis so very efficiently, the Telegraaf reports. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, called the Netherlands' term an exemplary presidency.

"It seems strange, but we were just warming up", Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs commented to broadcaster NOS. "I enjoyed it: it is really doing something beautiful in a very difficult time." According to Koenders, the Netherlands used its time as president well. "Our style seemed to do well. The Netherlands was very much on top of it."

As an example he talked about the asylum crisis. According to him, the Netherlands played a big role in making and implementing concrete agreements reached in Brussels, such as the asylum agreement with Turkey. "Because that is what Europe often forgets: you have to also carry out decisions."