On the occasion of the start of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2016, President Juncker and the College of Commissioners paid an official visit to the Netherlands.
On the first day of the visit (6 January 2016), the College members were received by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Mr Eberhard Van der Laan, who hosted a working dinner.
On the second day, following the meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President Juncker and First Vice President Timmermans welcomed the Dutch government’s political priorities for the next six months, and assured the Prime Minister that he can count on the full support of the European Commission. President Juncker stated: "We share with the Dutch Presidency the vision of Europe as an innovator and job generator".
The President outlined some areas where progress is envisaged, such as the deepening of the Internal Market and Economic and Monetary Union including a Common European Deposit Insurance Scheme. He left no doubt that the Commission will continue ensuring that Better Regulation is becoming a reality in the EU.
On the refugee crisis, President Juncker thanked the Dutch government for supporting the comprehensive package of measures that the Commission adopted last year, including the European Border and Coast Guard. President Juncker welcomed the initiative of the Dutch presidency to organize one ministerial meeting per month.
The College of Commissioners and the Dutch government got down to work immediately and held parallel thematic working sessions on the Presidency's five priorities: Jobs, growth and competitiveness; the Economic and Monetary Union, financial services, social affairs and regional policy; the Energy Union, climate and transport; the EU as a strong global player; and freedom, justice, security and counter-terrorism.
The College was also hosted by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima at the Royal Palace Amsterdam for a working lunch.
The visit concluded with a dialogue with members of the States General ("Staten-Generaal") of the Netherlands in The Hague. In his address, President Juncker insisted that the European Commission must be accountable to national parliaments. He particularly stressed that in the first year of the Commission's mandate the members of the College made 200 visits to national parliaments across the Union, to meet their committees and present their work.
In the margins of the visit, two agreements were signed in Amsterdam in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen that will lead to €225 million in support for microbusinesses in the Netherlands under the Investment Plan for Europe.