Dutch Presidency gets local kickoff

(NG) As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the College were in Amsterdam on Thursday to visit the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU, Luxembourg had an official kickoff of its own at the Maison de l'Europe in Luxembourg City centre.

Live streaming was organised so that local participants could hear what Juncker, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and First VP of the EC Frans Timmermans had to say about the transition of the presidency from Luxembourg to Netherlands.

Following a brief summary of the Luxembourgish presidency by Jean-Louis Thill of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Ambassador to Luxembourg Peter W. Kok spoke. 

Addressing participants in four languages, Ambassador Kok took a moment to commemorate the Charlie Hebdo attack, which happened exactly one year ago, calling it “shocking and inhumane”. As he put it, such attacks require responsibility on the part of Europe to defend its values.

He explained the presidency's need not for “grandiose visions, but tangible results.” His content was, of course, professional; yet he still managed to create a convivial atmosphere, peppering his speech with a few jokes on reusing colours and logos.

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Pragmatism is at the heart of the Dutch presidency as it focuses on four main policies: migration and international security, Europe as an innovator and job creator, sound European finances and a robust Eurozone and a forward-looking climate and energy policy.

And as Juncker himself said, “I'm in total agreement with the Dutch priorities.”

Local talent

The Dutch Embassy is eager to showcase the innovative and creative side of the Netherlands.

For this first official event, it welcomed three Dutch artists who live and work in Luxembourg: jazz singer Edith van den Heuvel, cellist Benjamin Kruithof, who provided musical entertainment for the morning, and Linda Bos, designer and founder of Pretty Forest and co-founder of lët'z go local.

Bos, who has called the Grand Duchy home for over 10 years, had her designs on display--from her 2014 and 2012 postage stamps to her design work for the Belval Plaza. Her most recent project is a set of T-shirts, which was a reverse approach to the much-discussed nation-branding.

One of her first local projects was a poster of Luxembourg City which was later converted into a stamp. As Bos put it, she wanted to create "a self-initiatated project simply because I loved the city."

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