MEP comment: Dutch EU Council presidency

Written by The Parliament Magazine on 30 December 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

MEPs discuss what to expect from the Dutch EU Council presidency.

Agnes Jongerius hopes UK renegotiation demands won't get in the way of the Dutch EU Council presidency's labour mobility agenda.

The upcoming Dutch EU Council presidency will be marked by what the Dutch know best: reinventing themselves, just like they have had to do over and over again after every flood. 

That is why the Dutch have presented an ambitious agenda for growth through innovation. Hence the presidency agenda's strong push to ensure fair labour mobility, based on equal pay for equal work at the same place. 

It seems British demands on labour migration for its upcoming EU membership referendum have delayed the Commission's presentation of its revised labour mobility package, with no new launch date. 

It would be a shame if the Commission missed this opportunity to close the loopholes that are increasing the disparities between the member states and threatening to undermine solidarity within the EU. 

Even more, it would be unacceptable that the shadow cast by UK Prime Minister David Cameron's bluff prevented Juncker and his team from delivering tangible results for citizens across Europe.

Agnes Jongerius (S&D, NL) is a Vice-Chair of Parliament’s employment and social affairs committee

 

The Netherlands can guide Europe's regions toward seizing the full potential of the bioeconomy, writes Lambert van Nistelrooij.

The next six months will be all about serving, saving and simplifying. The Dutch focus is on a Europe that creates jobs, brings economic growth and promotes competitiveness. The Dutch want a more innovative Europe, especially online. The digital single market needs strengthening.

Entrepreneurs and consumers both need to benefit from the online advantages. The Netherlands have taken steps forward on both cross border eCommerce and on the protection of consumers online. Better regulation is one of our priorities.

To achieve this in my policy field, regional development, the EU urban agenda is a focal point. As I mentioned in my recent book, Cities in the Spotlights, we need to take the cities directly on board. The EU urban agenda will not be merely a declaration - it will lead to the 'Amsterdam pact': a bottom-up approach where cities are empowered.

Also, Europe must be sustainable. The Netherlands is the most progressive country in the EU when it comes to the bioeconomy.  This presidency could be an opportunity to show how Europe's regions can succeed in this field. Just look to the Dutch biobased Delta.

Lambert van Nistelrooij (EPP, NL) is a member of Parliament’s regional development committee

 

The Dutch EU Council presidency will have many crises to tackle during its term, warns Johannes van Baalen.

The Dutch government wants to focus on strengthening the internal market and international trade, as it should; the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) is vital in this respect. Economic growth is the only solution to many of Europe's problems.

However, the Dutch EU Council presidency will have to deal with the ongoing refugee crisis, Schengen's dysfunction, EU-Russia relations in the aftermath of the MH17 catastrophe, a potential Brexit and the fight against Isis/Daesh inside and outside Syria. 

Effective control of our external borders is crucial to any solution to the EU's internal and external security problems, illegal migration and the refugee crisis.

To manage migration flows, we should cooperate with third countries - Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon - to stabilise the political situation in the Maghreb and the Middle East and to resettle refugees in the region. Effective repatriation measures should be enforced for migrants who are not entitled to asylum.

 

Johannes Cornelis van Baalen (ALDE, NL) is Chair of Parliament’s delegation for relations with South Africa

 

The Dutch presidency should use positive COP21 momentum and take steps towards implementing a green energy union, says Bas Eickhout.

Ahead of COP21, Morocco submitted a bold national climate plan, including a 42 per cent renewable electricity generation target by 2020. As a reminder, the EU's renewable energy target is at 27 per cent by 2030.

Why is it that Morocco can be so bold, but not us? Morocco is taking advantage of its natural resources. With the Sahara as its backyard, it has the space and sunshine needed for huge solar power plants. The EU has to create the conditions to fully capitalise its resources. 

This requires smart interconnectors, stimulating of renewables, EU-coordination, aligning national subsidy schemes, avoiding gas lock-ins and much more - in other words, it requires a green energy union. The Netherlands can contribute significantly. I challenge the Dutch government to take at least three steps.

Firstly, commence negotiations on topping up the EU's climate and energy targets.

Secondly, ensure the right of the European Commission to participate in negotiations on new gas contracts. 

Thirdly, create the regulatory convergence that is needed to start building a North Sea off shore electricity grid.

Such boldness will certainly pay off in the long term.

 

Bas Eickhout (NL) is Treasurer of Parliament's Greens/EFA group

 

 

 

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