Leeuwarden - The Dutch presidency of the EU is at risk of becoming far too much of an ‘ivory tower' in Amsterdam. This is the opinion of the Provincial Council of the FNP. The locations (everything will take place at just two locations in Amsterdam) as well as the themes are very focused on the Randstad urban conglomeration and much less on the surrounding regions. This can and must be done differently.
The location of all the meetings is limited to Amsterdam. Approximately 150 informal administrative meetings are planned to take place in the ‘Marine Etablissement'. Furthermore, between 10 and 13 so-called ‘ministerial meetings' will be held in the adjacent National Maritime Museum. The organization itself even admits that in the past the meetings were indeed held at several locations, but now everything will be concentrated in Amsterdam. In the FNP's opinion, this is a missed opportunity. Other European summits have also been held in other places than the capital city, for example in Milan, Barcelona, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The general character is now of an ‘ivory tower': in Amsterdam everything is decided for and about the people, without even having consulted the people of the country. And this, in spite of nice words, such as ‘Europe by people', ‘showcasing the country', ‘focused on concrete initiatives', etc.
In the past, meetings of the EU were also held in Friesland, for example meetings about agriculture. Nevertheless, the subject of agriculture is completely absent from the programme now, and other subjects important to Friesland are not included either, such as broadband, recreation and tourism, and shrinkage and viability of rural areas. For that matter, these are themes which are important to many more comparable regions in the EU. On the other hand, the subject of urban affairs, emphatically presented by the politicians in The Hague, is mentioned on the work list.
There are most certainly opportunities to pay working visits on location, in Friesland and in other provinces. Examples are the role and know-how of SMEs, a ‘High level meeting on the potential of North Sea regional cooperation' or a meeting/working visit with good practical examples about nature-inclusive agriculture; also in view of the new European agriculture policy, which is just being evaluated at present.