The EU Dutch presidency: Moving forward in small steps

Employment and Social Affairs


On a wider perspective, one of the top priority of the Dutch presidency semester is  enhancing employment and job creation along the EU countries.

Although the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU has been inevitably marked by the historical “Brexit” referendum in Great Britain at the end of the semester, many are the positive outcomes reached during the first six months of 2016.

Maybe one of the most important step forward has arrived on 22 June, when the European Parliament voted on establishing a European Border and Coast Guard. The purpose of this agency is to strengthen the external borders and to enhance the EU capacity for a common response to the refugee crisis.

But on a wider perspective one of the top priority of the Dutch presidency semester could be certainly considered the one related to the goal of enhancing employment and job creation along the EU countries.

The crucial policy areas of the Dutch Presidency

The Dutch presidency has paid great attention on crucial policy areas such as active labour policies, labour market participation, poverty reduction and social inclusion.

The Netherland Presidency aimed at reinforcing the role of the EU as an innovator and creator of jobs in Europe, as the creation of structural growth and innovative jobs feature prominently on the agenda of the Presidency with many conferences devoted to this issue.

Enhancing the free movement of workers was another one of the focal points of the Dutch Presidency, supporting the actions of the Commission in the field of social dumping as well as its efforts to avoid a “brain drain” by revising the Posting of Workers Directive.

Tax avoidance and the re-launching of entrepreneurship

During the Dutch presidency EU’s 28 member states have reached agreement on a comprehensive package of measures to stop tax avoidance, while the European Commission, social partners in the European Union and the Netherlands EU Presidency signed a declaration on 27 June 2016 on re-launching and strengthening social dialogue at European and national level.

As regard other concrete step reached during the Dutch presidency, in the sector of employment and social affairs, we could highlight the actions aimed at helping entrepreneurship in the EU countries: the European Commission, European Investment Fund (EIF) and European Investment Bank (EIB) have launched the SME Initiative Securitisation Instrument (SISI) that will enable more lending to Small and medium enterprises.

A timetable to strengthen the EU single market

The main outcomes, declared also by the Dutch Presidency itself at the end of its mandate, are the setting of a timetable by the European Council for strengthening the EU single market.

We made sure that enhancing the single market remained a priority. The European Council agreed that all the measures the Commission has planned for the single market must be adopted by the end of 2018 at the latest. And every year in June we will take stock of progress, in all openness”, said Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte addressing European Parliament in Strasbourg at the beginning of Slovakian semester few days ago.

According to Rutte “completing the single market could add an extra 1.25 trillion euros to the EU economy, which would mean millions of new jobs”.

Others major concrete outcomes

Others major concrete outcomes of the Dutch semester are the agreement reached on full open access to publicly funded academic research publications (Open Science) and signing the Pact of Amsterdam on urban development.

Those are all actions that need to be further implemented by the EU member states as for the way European decision-making works it is inevitable to move forward in small steps and with common coordinated actions. So now this work should be continued by the two other presidencies of the “Trio”, Slovakia and Malta.

The Lisbon Treaty in 2009 introduced effectively a system called “Trios”: member states holding the presidency work together closely in groups of three; the trio sets long-term goals and prepares a common agenda determining the topics and major issues that will be addressed by the Council over an 18 month period.

Now is up to Slovakia to continue the useful work launched by Netherland in this troubled period for the EU.

Valerio Palombaro

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