Posts in "Netherlands" Category

Going Dutch – looking back at the presidency

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In the first half of 2016, The Netherlands held the presidency of the European Council for the fourth time since 1986, a record in the Union. Many think the country’s stance towards the EU has been changing for the worse, in fact, the Financial Times even named The Netherlands ‘the most obstructive’ EU-member state. 

In line with their reputation, the Dutch went cheap on their presidency. All meetings were held in the same location, hardly any trips were organised outside of Amsterdam, and there was no grand opening or closing. This was to accommodate the increasing anti-EU sentiment in the country. At the start of the Dutch term, Rutte had already been Prime Minister for six years, and was fairly familiar with the EU routines and key players.

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Dealing with discontent after the Dutch ‘No’

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The Dutch have once again thrown a spanner in Europe’s works.

Eleven years after the people of the Netherlands rejected the European Union’s constitutional treaty, they have delivered another ‘nee’ – this time to an Association Agreement with Ukraine.

The vote was decisive – more than 60 per cent of voters opposed the agreement (albeit on a low turnout). But was it a ‘no’ to the agreement, or to the political and media establishment?

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Dutch voters say ‘No’ to Ukraine deal

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The Dutch government will not automatically ratify the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte made the announcement after initial exit polls indicated that a large majority of voters had opposed ratification in an advisory referendum on Wednesday 6 April.

Although the consultative referendum is non-binding, the Prime Minister and the leaders of all political parties have made it clear that the strong ‘No’ vote has consequences. What those consequences are in practice will be clarified over the coming weeks.

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The other referendum

EU and Ukraine flags

It could not come at a worse time for the Dutch government.

On 6 April, right in the middle of the Netherlands’ Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the country will hold a referendum on ratification of the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. And it is causing headaches for Dutch political leaders.

The main reason is that this is not really a vote about economic and political relations with Ukraine. It’s about Europe.

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Brexit: will the Dutch be able to keep the Brits on board?

‘Brexit’ scares many people and governments in the European Union – but the Dutch government is particularly worried.

British withdrawal from the EU would mean the loss of the Netherlands’ most important ally in the debate about European integration. With the British referendum just a matter of time, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte (pictured), will want to keep his British counterpart, David Cameron, onside. And Cameron will need Rutte’s support to bring back some powers to London.

Yet diverging approaches to renegotiation could put a strain on the relationship.

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Mixed fortunes for governing parties in Dutch regional polls

The Dutch provincial elections, held on 18 March, have resulted in a striking fragmentation of the Dutch political landscape.

The results of the provincial elections have national importance: the 566 newly-elected members of the twelve provinces (known as states-provincial) will elect the 75 members of the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer). This indirect election will take place on 26 May 2015.

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Dear @Xavier_Bettel, it’s time to rotate the @EU_Presidency

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In seven months Luxembourg will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Preparations seem to be well underway, but so far your government has not set up a specific Twitter account for the presidency.

As you may know, the current Italian EU Presidency is quite active on Twitter. It has amassed more than 32,000 followers to its account, @IT2014EU. The Latvian government – which holds the presidency in the first half of 2015 – is already tweeting via two accounts – in English (@EU2015LV), and in Latvian (@ES2015LV). They have a combined total of  more than 3,800 followers.

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Who will be the social media champion of #TeamJunckerEU?

Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission team faces questions from Members of the European Parliament next week – but they already being probed on Twitter.

So how well are the commissioners-designate prepared to engage online – and who will be the social media king or queen of the new Commission?

Download our PDF infographic of the new European Commission on Twitter

There are more commissioners-designate on Twitter than serving commissioners – which is no surprise. Despite the fact that the Juncker team has more senior national experience than José Manuel Barroso’s team, they have fewer followers on average (19,000 in Juncker’s team as opposed to 26,500 in Barroso’s). However, their accounts should quickly gain followers – if they survive the hearings.

Pierre Moscovici, a former French finance minister, Commissioner-designate for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, and a relatively early adopter of Twitter, has the largest following – just over 109,000. (Barroso is the most-followed Twitter user in the current team, with 121,000 followers.)

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A five-point guide to the EU top jobs puzzle

This weekend, the European Council will meet again to decide on the holders of the EU’s top jobs.

Here’s our five-point guide to Saturday’s meeting and what it means – and have your say on one of the key issues of the summer by voting in our poll.

1. Time for action

hvr squareAfter the failure to agree on the top jobs at the last summit in July, European Union leaders are under pressure to reach an accord. The European Council is increasingly gaining a reputation as an institution that takes too long to decide anything, and whose decisions are often ‘fudges’.

Saturday is the crunch moment: if EU leaders fail to conclude a ‘package’ of appointments, it will put paid to any remote hopes of appointing the Commission on time. More importantly in the long term, it will increase popular and global perceptions of the EU as a sclerotic organisation. Herman Van Rompuy (pictured left), the President of the European Council, was criticised by EU leaders and many analysts for not preparing a watertight deal before July’s summit (although he was not helped by some prime ministers). The President will not want another failure.

The decisions are not easy: there are significant political, institutional and personal headaches for the 28 leaders. But the leaders are there to lead, and to decide. It’s time to act.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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