After being sworn in last week, Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof headed to Brussels on Monday to meet with the presidents of the European Commission, European Council,

and European Parliament. A challenging task awaits him: the four parties in his government (NSC, BBB, PVV, and VVD) are seeking exceptions from Europe on various policies.

Among other things, the Netherlands is requesting an opt-out from European migration policy, exceptions to fertilizer regulations, and reduced contributions to the European budget. These demands are met with surprise in Brussels, especially since Schoof, unlike his predecessor Rutte, is completely unknown in European circles. While it is too early for real negotiations on these issues, the prime minister hinted that he had encouraged Von der Leyen and others during his introductory meetings to consult on a few key matters.

Another important reason for his visit to Brussels was the nomination of a Dutch European Commissioner. He remained tight-lipped about this after the visit, except to say that he had a preliminary conversation with Von der Leyen. However, he reiterated that he assumes the Netherlands will not be able to secure a ‘heavy post’ in the new Commission, as it already held one in recent years with first vice-president Frans Timmermans in Juncker’s team. Photo by  AIVD, Wikimedia commons.