The Netherlands and the EU Presidency

What does holding the EU Presidency involve?

Every six months a different member state holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In 2016 the Netherlands will hold the Presidency for the twelfth time. The last time was in 2004.

Holding the Presidency involves mediating and brokering compromises between the 28 EU member states and between EU institutions like the Council, European Commission and European Parliament.

The sixth-month Presidency rotates between all the member states.
The presiding member state draws up the agenda for the Council and chairs all meetings. Ministers from the presiding member state chair the meetings with their fellow EU ministers (EU Council configurations). Meetings of the European heads of state and government and of European foreign affairs ministers have their own permanent chairs, however.

Nederland verbindt

© CC0 Aad Meijer

Trio Presidency

Each Presidency works closely with the two member states that preceded or will follow it. This partnership is known as the ‘Trio Presidency’.

The trio determines long-term objectives and draws up an agenda of the major issues the Council will tackle over the next 18 months. To this end, each of the three member states draws up its own six-month programme.

The Netherlands is partnered with Slovakia, which will hold the Presidency from July to December 2016 and Malta, which will hold the Presidency from January to June 2017.


The Netherlands government is working to foster greater and active transparency in European decision-making. Transparency and trust go hand in hand, as do trust and public support. By pressing for more transparency, the government wants to help increase support for the European Union.

Download the letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, to the House of Representatives of the Netherlands on the transparency of the European Union.