Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU

The beginning of 2020 marks an important milestone for Croatia, the youngest member state of the EU, as it takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

On January 1, 2020 Croatia took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Finland and it will hold this role until July 1, 2020, when it will be succeeded by Germany. Croatia is the last country in the current presidency trio which includes Romania and Finland. The three countries which have successive presidencies ensure the continuity and implementation of the common political program. As the youngest member states of the EU and one of the smallest European countries, is Croatia ready to rise to the challenge?

Croatia’s program:A Strong Europe in a World of Challenges

The motto of the Croatian presidency is “A Strong Europe in a World of Challenges”, with the four main priorities: “a Europe that is developing, that connects, that protects and that is influential”, as outlined in the Programme of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which was presented by Andrej Plenković, Croatia’s Prime Minister, in his speech in the European Parliament, on 14th January, 2020. 

Some of the main challenges that the European Union faces are Brexit, uneven economic development, environmental issues, increased migration and concerning amount of disinformation. The program suggests various policies to be enforced in order to deal with these challenges. For example, the policies that support a balanced development of all member states with their specific economic situations in mind as well as policies to build future partnership with the UK after Brexit. As far as the environment is regarded, some of the issues that will be dealt with are conservation of biodiversity, protection of the sea and coastal areas from pollution and development of circular economy.

The role of The Council of the European Union in a nutshell

As it can be seen from the program, it is the Council of the European Union, as the main decision-making body of the European Union together with the European Parliament, which decides about policies and strategies. Its main tasks are to negotiate and adopt EU laws, coordinate EU countries’ policies, develop the EU’s foreign and security policy, conclude agreements between the EU and other countries and adopt the annual EU budget.

The members of the Council of the EU are the heads of states or governments. The Council meets regularly to discuss various topics so ministers and state heads attend the meetings in different configurations depending on the topic. For example, if the financial policies are discussed, it is the ministers of finances from the member states that attend the meeting. The role of the country which is presiding is to host numerous meetings and represent the Council in mediating between member states and between EU institutions.

Benefits and challenges for Croatia

The presidency of the Council of the European Union is a challenging role, but it can have a lot of benefits for the country.  Hosting numerous meetings requires lots of logistics, such as accommodation, meals, public transport which will test the country’s administrative and economic strength but it will also create new job opportunities and can lead to boosting Croatia’s economy. In addition, new employees will be needed in various state institutions, especially ones closely connected with Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. By sponsoring various events connected with the presidency, many private companies will have an opportunity to advertise their products and get access to new markets. It is also likely that Croatia’s popularity as a tourist destination will increase. On the other hand, the presidency is largely funded from the national budget so financially it can be a considerable burden for the country presiding despite the fact that some of the costs are covered from the EU funds. All in all, Croatian presidency of the Council of Europe could have a lot of positive outcomes, especially for the young people who will see some crucial international events taking place in their homeland showing that even a small country can thrive within the European Union.

Watch the official video of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU.

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