The Netherlands Looks Ahead to its Upcoming EU Presidency

Euro2004 Championships, sovereignty hand-over in Iraq, etc.: What many people are letting pass them by is the fact that, as of July 1, the EU’s rotating presidency goes to the Netherlands. Most of the on-line Dutch press has ignored this so far, too, but at least De Volkskrant is willing to devote an article to looking ahead at that: The Netherlands “Realistic, but Ambitious” as EU- Chairman. (Yes, it seems the Dutch also refer to the rotating “presidency” as the “chairmanship.”) This mainly reports the presentation Dutch foreign minister B.R. Bot and his state-secretary Atzo Nicola├» gave on Wednesday in Brussels which outlined the Netherlands’ plans for the upcoming six-month “chairmanship.”

“Realistic”? That translates into “don’t expect too much,” because it’s likely that less will be able to be accomplished during the last six months of 2004 than usual, mainly because of the almost-complete turnover among top policy-making EU personnel. We’ve just had European Parliament elections, so a brand-new session of that institution will start soon, and soon there will also be a new European Commission (now bigger and better than ever, with 25 commissioners!), including a new Commission President. Finally, of course there are also ten brand-new EU member-states who can be expected to still be feeling their way around how things are supposed to get done within EU institutions for at least the remainder of this year.

Ratification of that proposed EU Constitution that was finally agreed upon by all member-states at the 17-18 June Brussels summit will not really be an issue during the Dutch Presidency. That is supposed to be ratified by member-states, via one means or another depending on the individual state, over a period of two years stretching to the summer of 2006, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the trend here is generally to put off submitting that to national ratification processes later rather than sooner. One important policy decision that is due during the Dutch Presidency, however, is whether to begin accession negotiations with Turkey. The next important step for that will be the submission in October of the report on Turkey’s suitability for accession, to be written by Enlargement Commissioner G├╝nther Verheugen. The actual decision about whether to start accession negotiations is due by the end of the year. Bot diplomatically refused to speculate on the issue at this point, saying he preferred to wait for Verheugen’s report. But he was willing to say that Turkey had in the past year made greater “progress” – presumably progress towards meeting the EU’s expectations of it – than it had in the previous ten put together. But the country apparently still has a way to go in the areas of public finance and human rights (e.g. stopping torture in its jails – but let’s quickly get off that particular sensitive subject).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.