Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman presented at the Croatian Parliament the Report on the Activities and Results of Croatia’s Council of the EU Presidency 1 January-30 June 2020.
Our presidency was the first in the new institutional cycle following the last year’s European Parliament elections: with new heads of European institutions and new priorities of the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda. It took place amid the final stages of the new EU budget talks and uncertainty over Brexit.
"For Croatia, chairing the Council of the EU was the crown of its European journey. Memories of accession talks and joining the EU are still fresh, and already we’ve had the chance to chair the Council, in time of the biggest challenges for the EU in its history. Given the extraordinary circumstances of our presidency, I can say we’ve achieved good results, as confirmed by numerous positive assessments from our colleagues and partners,” Grlić Radman said.
The minister highlighted some of the presidency’s achievements: the setting up of joint crisis response mechanisms; the decision to launch accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia; Zagreb Summit and the adoption of the Zagreb Declaration; the opening of last negotiating chapter with Montenegro; orderly Brexit; agreement on the Council’s position on the Conference on the Future of Europe; the Eastern Partnership Summit and the adoption of the conclusions on the initiative's policy post-2020; progress in the implementation of the EU Strategic Agenda in a number of areas.
Speaking of the implementation of the Strategic Agenda and other priorities, the minister underlined the high level on consensus regarding the final text of the Strategic Guidelines in the areas of freedom, security and justice; we have made progress regarding the climate – the Council adopted a long-term strategy on emissions to be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; transport ministers adopted the Opatija Declaration, providing guidelines for the development of EU maritime policy by 2030; we adopted three sets of conclusions in the area of employment and social affairs, including the improvement of skills and acquiring new ones, as well as in the area of demographic challenges, which were one of the key topics and priorities of our presidency, and conclusions on European teachers and trainers for the future, as well as the Resolution on Education and Training in the European Semester.
Furthermore, immediately after the pandemic outbreak, we activated the Integrated Political Crisis Response Mechanism (IPCR); we reached in record time an agreement on key proposals such as the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the SURE instrument; we took part in the repatriation efforts together with other member states: some 630,000 EU citizens have been safely brough back home during the crisis.
The Report also outlines the numerous activities and achievements of all 10 configurations of the Council, resulting in the adoption of 33 legal acts, 27 trialogues and 54 Council’s conclusions.
"We didn’t have the chance to show our country and its rich history to guests from member states and EU institutions as a lot of the meetings had been cancelled, but that was a reality we’ve had to accept. We have changed the way we work and have adapted to the new normal, setting the standards for those who follow. We can all be proud of the job well done. Amid challenging circumstances, we’ve achieved the set goals and strengthened the spirit of solidarity and unity within the European family,” concluded Grlić Radman in his address.