The Dutch European Union Presidency: Dutch Doubts

Scepticism about Europe, the admission of Turkey, the proposed constitutional treaty and financial worries are about to collide as the Dutch assume the rotating European Union presidency. Difficult times lie ahead and Britain will be watching as it prepares to take over next year.

The World Today Published 1 June 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

Edwin Van De Haar

Senior public affairs consultant, Bennis Porter Novelli, a Dutch communications consultancy firm

The Dutch presidency of the European Union (EU) will be the most daunting task. Unlike previous presidencies, the cabinet cannot count on popular support for an increase in integration. There is a growing popular feeling of unease with the EU, and politicians are not sure in which direction to lead European integration in the second half of the year. It will be a surprise if the Dutch are effective at all, since the domestic agenda will take up far more time than usual.

Divided home front

Sometime during the nineties, the Dutch stopped being the starry-eyed federalists they once were. This had a lot to do with becoming a net contributor to the Union budget, while at the same time former Liberal leader – now European Commissioner – Frits Bolkestein began questioning the direction of European integration.

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