As holder of the EU-presidency the Netherlands sought to bring member states together on key issues such as migration, the internal market and safety. This e-zine, the last in a series of three digital English-language publications, highlights some of the outcomes and results that were achieved during the Netherlands EU-presidency in the first half of 2016. Taken together, the articles, graphics and videos provide an incomplete but representative overview across the various policy areas.
The refugee crisis was the most urgent issue to address. Concrete results during the Netherlands presidency included an agreement with Turkey on a migration plan and the launch of a European Border Guard, responsible for protecting the Union’s external borders. Also, we worked to implement EU-agreements with West African countries on tackling root causes of economic migration.
To strengthen the internal market, a timetable has been put in place for its reinforcement, with a view to fostering growth and creating jobs. A decision must be taken by the end of 2018 on all plans that are now on the table. It will then be up to the European Council to conduct an annual review of their implementation.
Fighting tax avoidance
Facilitating the exchange of tax details between the national tax authorities helps preventing tax avoidance. In the future big companies are obliged to provide annual reports on the amount of tax they pay. EU member states will team up, using innovative methods to detect tax fraud more rapidly.
Other results include the fourth ‘Rail Package’, designed to create a more competitive rail sector and an agreement to tackle antibiotic resistance in the healthcare sector and in livestock farming. The open science agreement ensures that all scientific research funded with public money will be publicly available as of 2020. The Urban agenda for the EU gives cities a more prominent role in EU legislation, increased access to funds and promotes a joint approach to address complex urban issues.
And that is not all.
New European rules make in vitro diagnostics and medical devices safer and more accessible to those who need them. And nine North Sea countries joined forces to build more offshore wind farms. Finally, specific steps have been taken to make Europe safer and more secure. The firearms directive was amended, causing stricter European standards on sales and possession of arms and the convertibility of alarm weapons into functional firearms.
The Netherlands’ Presidency of the EU was marked by an emphasis on innovation, pragmatism and transparency. The same goes true for our communicative approach. As with the other English language editions, extra attention has been given to visual elements such as infographics, videos and photography.