On January 1st 2020, less than seven years after its accession to the European Union in 2013, Croatia will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time. For six months Croatia will be the main driving force for the tasks on the agenda of the Union.
The Croatian Council presidency has been tasked to continue the intensive work carried out over the past year on the future multiannual financial framework (MFF), the EU's long-term budget. Croatia is a member of the "Friends of Cohesion" group, which aims to preserve funding for the Cohesion Policy in the next seven-year budget.
Croatia prepared its six-month presidency program based on four priorities under the motto "Strong Europe in a World of Challenges", taking into consideration the Council's EU Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024 and the programme of the new European Commission.
First of all, in the context of "a Europe that develops", the Croatian Presidency will advocate for balanced, sustainable and inclusive development of the Union. The Presidency will pay particular attention to regional development, creating opportunities for rural youth, demographic challenges, gender equality and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Moreover, the Presidency will promote digitalisation of businesses and agriculture, competitiveness of SMEs, lifelong learning and developing skills for future jobs. Furthermore, the Croatian Presidency will continue to advance the EU agenda on climate change, in order to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Secondly, under the priority "a Europe that connects", the Croatian Presidency will focus on connectivity and networking of the economies and the maximum fulfillment of its infrastructural and human potentials. Hence, the Presidency will encourage policies aimed at infrastructural (transport, energy and digital) connectivity of the Union, as well as bringing its people together, primarily through education, culture and sports.
Asylum and migration policy will continue to be high up on the EU policy agenda. In the framework of "a Europe that protects", the Presidency aims to make progress in this area and to reinforce cooperation with third countries. The Presidency plans to propose a reform of the Common European Asylum System policy. Furthermore, the Presidency will prioritise the fight against organised crime, money laundering and financing terrorism and the resilience of the EU to hybrid threats, cybersecurity and disinformation. ”We will advocate closer cooperation of members in the fight against terrorist financing. It is necessary to better connect all information systems in the field of internal affairs,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.
Fourthly, the Croatian Presidency will seek to reinforce the role of the EU as a leading global actor. A special focus will be given to the Western Balkans and the enlargement strategy of the EU. The EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May 2020 will one of the key Presidency events and will give a chance to rethink the languishing enlargement process.