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Dutch Council Presidency sets sail

The new year has ushered in the first phase of the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese Trio Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On 1 January, the Netherlands took over the rotating Presidency from Luxembourg, assuming the role for the first time since 2004. The Netherlands’ twelfth Council Presidency in its history will have to navigate difficult waters, as it faces the refugee crisis, the threat of Brexit and the need to continue Europe’s economic recovery among the issues to be tackled. As expected, these challenges, along with the priorities set out in the European Council’s Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change, have shaped the four priorities of the Dutch Presidency: migration and international security; sound finances and a robust Eurozone; Europe as an innovator and job creator; and forward-looking climate and energy policy. 

On the education and training front, the Dutch Presidency will align its activity with the European Council’s Strategic agenda, which focuses on employability and the development of knowledge and skills. It will also address the forthcoming Skills Agenda for Europe, an initiative of the European Commission to promote skills development. The Presidency will also pursue the modernisation of higher education and vocational training, and in this respect the mutual recognition of qualifications will receive particular attention. Last but not least, the Netherlands will continue the debate on the role of education in integrating migrants and combatting youth radicalisation. 

As for research, the Dutch efforts will focus on making Europe more innovative by encouraging investment through improving the research and business environment. Simplifying the access to funding from the Horizon 2020 programme will also be high on the agenda. Finally, as an ardent advocate of open access, the Netherlands will aim to put its stamp on EU policy by promoting public access to scientific publications.  

The Dutch Presidency of the Council will end on 1 July 2016, when the rotating leadership will be handed over to Slovakia.

Programme of the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union