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Europe

Dutch Face Slow Start to EU Presidency

The incoming Dutch EU Presidency faces a slow start to its term at the helm of the EU as the Brussels institutions are preoccupied with either finishing or starting their mandates.

Taking over at the EU helm on July 1, The Hague will at first be confronted by a rather sparse political landscape. The European Parliament will still be assembling itself - working out which parties will belong to which group and who chairs which committee - while the European Commission will be winding down for its finish at the end of October. Speaking at the European Policy Center, the Dutch EU ambassador Tom de Bruijn acknowledged the difficulty this will pose. He said his presidency was taking place at a "rather difficult moment." Speaking of the two institutions, he said "of course there is a parliament but at the same time there is no parliament" referring to the fact that the Brussels assembly will need some months before it is up and running and as for the Commission, it "is now more or less on its last feet." The Netherlands also faces the troubling prospect of there being no deputy secretary general of the council - a crucial guiding position - if EU leaders do not reach agreement on the post next week. The first real test, with all institutions in place, will come on Nov. 5 with an EU summit. But as de Bruijn ruefully remarked, the commissioners who take up their posts just a couple of days before will probably still be "finding their bureaus and their chauffeurs." (EUobserver.com)

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