EU presidency in times of crisis
The Netherlands holds the presidency of the European Union for the coming six months. There are too many urgent issues for the country to spend time on Dutch political hobby horses, says Stefaan Van den Bogaert, Director of the Europa Institute.
The Netherlands has already held the presidency of the European Union several times, and important treaties have been signed under previous Dutch presidencies that have led to the further unification of Europe. That's not going to happen this time, according to Stefaan Van den Bogaert, Professor of European Law and Director of the Europa Institute at Leiden University.
One crisis too many?
Van den Bogaert: ‘The are simply too many crises at the moment. The EU has to find a solution to the refugee crisis, the after-effects of the financial crisis and the continuing terrorist threat. There's also the UK Brexit issue, and the conflict in Ukraine is continuing unabated.'
In all this commotion there is little room for the Dutch cabinet's own ideas. The Netherlands is strongly in favour of better regulation, for example, and reducing regulatory pressure. 'We have to put our own political agenda largely to one side,' says Van den Bogaert. 'There are other more important issues to deal with. The EU has been under pressure for a long time, and the current refugee crisis could be one crisis too many. The Dutch presidency will only be successful if Europe finds a solution to that problem.'
The Europa Institute will be monitoring the Dutch presidency closely in the coming months, and will give advice where necessary. The Institute is, for example, currently working on a book that brings together the knowledge about the EU held by Leiden academics from different disciplines, including Law and Public Administration. In the book they make a number of recommendations for the Dutch presidency of the EU.
Van den Bogaert: ‘We can make both practical and theoretical recommendations. We not only have all the essential academic knowledge at our disposal, we also have the necessary practical experience. That's crucial in order to be able to explain European politics.' The Europa Institute can count on the expertise of Leiden's Luuk van Middelaar, Professor of Foundations and Practice of the European Union and its Institutions, who worked for many years in Brussels for Herman van Rompuy and Frits Bolkestein.
What is the Europa Institute?
The Europa Institute at Leiden University carries out scientific research, offers a broad teaching programme and provides legal advice to private individuals and the public sector. It is one of the oldest academic institutions specialisiing in European Union law on human rights. It was founded in 1957, the same year as the European Economic Community (the precursor of the EU).