Trade and innovation

As is true for the rest of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is dependent on a strong, collaborative Europe for its prosperity. Historically, Amsterdam has always been a city of entrepreneurs; in the 17th century – the Dutch Golden Age – Amsterdam was the most important international business centre, as its ships sailed to all corners of the world. Thanks to the prosperity that trade brought to the city, science and art were also able to flourish. Today, the city continues to be creative, open-minded and innovative.

Amsterdam and the EU

As Amsterdam’s history has always been so closely tied to the rest of Europe, it is no surprise that the Netherlands is one of the ’Inner Six’: the founding members of the ECSC and the EEC, the predecessors of the EU. It’s also fitting that it was here that ministers from 15 European countries signed the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, which expanded the powers of the European Union and signified a major step in its development. 

Then & Now

EU presidency Amsterdam

June 1997

This photo of ministers on bicycles was taken 18 years ago, in 17 June 1997, when the Netherlands also held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On a picturesque bridge in Amsterdam, Minister Wim Kok (left) gives cycling instructions to Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Also seen at the back is Belgian Prime Minister Jean Luc Dehaene on his bicycle.

On this day, the Resolution of the Amsterdam European Council on the stability and growth pact was signed, providing the Member States, the Council and the Commission with firm policy guidelines for the timely and rigorous implementation of the stability and growth pact. The Stability and Growth Pact sees that Member States agree to strengthen the surveillance and coordination of national fiscal and economic policies to enforce the Maastricht rules.

A day after, on 18 June 1997, one of the most important treaties of the EU was signed: the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Treaty of Amsterdam increased powers of the European Parliament in diverse areas including new abilities to legislate on immigration, civil and criminal law and to enact foreign and security policy (CFSP), as well as institutional changes for expansion as new member nations of the EU join.