EUROPE The Netherlands has taken over the presidency of the European Union until 1 July 2016. What does this mean in practice?

Recent terrorist attacks, the influx of refugees and the Greek debt crisis have left Europe in a difficult situation. According to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, the Netherlands now has the important task of keeping the EU on course and serve as a builder of bridges between the 28 member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

On the agenda
The ongoing priorities of the EU Member States are to ensure sustainable growth, facilitate innovation and create jobs. The states also need to focus on devising an integrated approach to migration and international safety.

The energy and environment councils are naturally of interest to Vattenfall, because this is where the relevant European ministers discuss European policy, such as strategies for shaping and regulating the European energy market as effectively as possible. The issue will be discussed during the Energy Council in Amsterdam on 11 April. 

Energy union
Helga Norrby, manager of Vattenfall’s Brussels office, explains:
"The European energy policy applies to the entire European Union. It guarantees a reliable, sustainable and affordable supply of energy throughout the 28 Member States. During its presidency, the Netherlands will make every effort to create and maintain a strong European energy market.”

Norrby explains that Vattenfall focusses on being part of the dialogue and ensuring that specific topics are on the European agenda.
“This is one of the tasks of our department: to create and take part in dialogue and to contribute our expertise."

Market design
Victoria Ruijs, European affairs advisor in Brussels, says that market design was a topic that Vattenfall wanted on the agenda.

"It is a time-consuming process. Several years ago, we began to define our position and analyse the various scenarios. In this instance, we want the market to work for us as efficiently as possible. Yes, we are in favour of European regulations, but we want to be able to cooperate at regional level where necessary for the simple reason that there are solutions available that are cheaper, just as reliable and safe, and provide support for our business.”

Ruijs explains that once Vattenfall has established its position on a particular matter, the lobbying process begins.

“We lobby the European Parliament via the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands in Brussels or via an official at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Hague. We also have channels for lobbying the European Commission and European Parliament

Over the coming months, there are many other topics on the European agenda aside from market design that are of interest to Vattenfall, including regional cooperation in the North Sea area and the Environment Council in Amsterdam on 14 April, which will discuss green transportation and the Paris Agreement.

The Netherlands EU Presidency 2016

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