The Netherlands took over the Council Presidency of the EU on 1 January 2016 and will hold it until the end of June 2016. Having presented its programme for the coming six months, these overarching priorities have been highlighted:
- A comprehensive approach to migration and international security;
- Europe as an innovator and job creator;
- Sound, future-proof European finances and a robust euro zone;
- Forward-looking policy on climate and energy.
With regard to sport policy, the Presidency will put the integrity of sport on the agenda, in line with the EU Work Plan for Sport 2014-2017. The focus will be on the organization and legacy-building of major international sporting events, in particular looking at how this can be done with positive social, economic and sustainable returns that can generate public support. The Presidency will work closely with the sports sector and organize different events to promote anti-doping, good governance and transparency in sport.
A general objective related to sport will be the integration of migrants and the role of education and youth work in combating youth radicalization. The Presidency underlines the importance of sport as a tool to engage with young people.
Other policy issues relevant for sport are the following:
- In the area of education the Netherlands Presidency will give priority to employability and the development of knowledge and skills. One key focus of attention is the modernization of higher education and vocational training.
- Discussion of the European Commission’s new Skills Agenda in its 2016 Work Program, which aims at promoting investment in skills development.
- With regard to culture, media and the creative industries the Netherlands Presidency will strive for a debate and Council conclusions on the infrastructure and platforms required for European digital heritage.
- Promoting the circulation of European audiovisual productions and the modernization of copyright as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy.
- Advancement of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
- Promoting gender equality and health issues.
In addition, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta, which will hold the next three Presidencies of the EU Council (known collectively as the Trio Presidency), have drawn up an 18-month agenda focusing on the integrity of sports, sports diplomacy and volunteering in sports. The challenge of migration and refugees will remain high on the agenda for the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese Presidencies and sport will play an important tool in this context.