The Netherlands on Friday took over the six-month chairmanship of the European Union from Luxembourg and January 1, 2016 marks the start of the new trio chairmanship - three successive presidencies (The Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta) that will head the Council of the European Union over the next year and a half.

With the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon, which introduced the office of the permanent president of the European Council and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, the rotating presidency has become less significant however, it still holds some powers, as the presiding country prepares and chairs most of the EU meetings.

The Netherlands is taking the helm of the presidency at a time when the EU is faced with historic challenges - whether Britain will remain or leave the Union, security issues threatening the Schengen Area, the migrant crisis and growing Euro scepticism.

The Netherlands is one of the six countries that founded the European Union and has presided over the Union eleven times and last time it was 2004. It is one of the ten most competitive countries for doing business in the world.

During its chairmanship, the Netherlands has announced that it will focus on the following priorities: an integrated approach to migrants and international security, encouragement of innovations and job creation, a stable and firm monetary union and climate and energy policies turned to the future.

The Netherlands wants the EU to concentrate on what is vital and comprehends a clear delineation of the powers of EU authorities from the powers of national states. It also wishes to improve European legislation which needs to be as simple as possible and free of unnecessary red tape for businesses, citizens and governments.

During the next six months, all informal ministerial meetings will be held in Amsterdam.

To emphasise the recurring cycle of EU Presidencies, the Netherlands will use the same Presidency logo in 2016 that it used in 2004.

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