Dutch ready for challenge of EU Presidency

24th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

24 June 2004, AMSTERDAM — With just a week to go before the start of the Dutch presidency of the EU, Foreign Minister Ben Bot has said the Netherlands is ready to take over from Ireland if necessary in the search to find an acceptable candidate to head the European Commission.

24 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — With just a week to go before the start of the Dutch presidency of the EU, Foreign Minister Ben Bot has said the Netherlands is ready to take over from Ireland if necessary in the search to find an acceptable candidate to head the European Commission.

"I have high hopes that the Irish Presidency will settle this affair," Bot told reporters on Wednesday.

"(But) if the Irish Presidency does not succeed, rest assured the Dutch Presidency hopes to be able to come to a decision before 22 July."

A spokesman for Minister Bot told Expatica that the candidate European Commission President must appear before the European Parliament next month. The Parliament is then due to give its verdict on EU governments' choice of a successor to Italian Romano Prodi on 22 July.

Minister Bot was speaking to reporters at a meeting to unveil the priorities for the Dutch Presidency over the next six months.

The European Commission, or EC, is the European Union's executive compromised of commissioners who are in a sense ministers governing a department and formulating the Bloc's policies on issues such as health, transport and free trade.

Ireland is coming to the end of its six-month presidency of the EU and will hand over the office to the Netherlands on 1 July. 

Under Ireland's presidency, the expanded 25-member nation EU has agreed groundbreaking Constitution governing union affairs.

The Netherlands is expected to hold a non-binding referendum on the Constitution before the end of its presidency in December. At least eight other EU countries will also put the Constitution to the public in a referendum.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is still trying to find a candidate for the post of President of the European Commission to succeed Prodi when his five-year term ends in October.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was supported by the French and Germans, but vetoed by the UK government as being too federalist. French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac opposed Britain's Chris Patten for the post.

French news agency AFP reported Ahern is canvassing several compromise names among European leaders, including that of Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, Finland's Paavo Lipponen and EU Justice Commissioner Antonio Vitorino.

Meanwhile, Bot also vowed that the 25-nation EU would act fairly when it came in December to decide whether to begin official EU accession talks with Turkey.

The 25 member states of the EU promised last week they would open accession talks "without delay" by the end of the year if an evaluation showed Turkey meets all economic and political conditions laid down for membership.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + EU

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