State Secretary Nikolina Brnjac, the Croatian delegated official for representing the Council in the European Parliament (ministre délégué), participated 10-13 February 2020 in the parliament’s plenary session.
Brnjac discussed a number of topics that the Croatian presidency is focusing on, such as the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), future relations with the UK and migrant crisis.
The state secretary informed MEPs about preparations for the extraordinary European Council meeting of 20 February on the MFF, stressing that once the Council reached a consensus, the Croatian presidency would closely cooperate with the European Parliament. She underscored that a timely and balanced agreement on the MFF was in the common interest of all European institutions, member states and citizens.
In light of the pending adoption of mandate for negotiations on future partnership with the UK, Brnjac underlined the importance of implementing the Withdrawal Agreement, notably the part regulating citizens’ rights. Concerning future relations, the state secretary stressed as particularly important agreement on the protection of citizens’ rights, single market integrity and status of European companies. In addition, Brnjac welcomed the new MEPs who had assumed office post-Brexit.
Wrapping up a discussion on the humanitarian situation on the EU external border, including the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brnjac emphasized that Croatia fully respects the rights, safety and dignity of migrants and refugees in line with the international, European and national law.
She underscored that the Croatian Government insists on zero tolerance for any forms of violence and investigates all allegations about police misconduct. As a member state of the EU, Croatia is obliged to protect the state border and prevent illegal migrations with the Schengen Borders Code and national regulations. Moreover, Brnjac addressed the importance of reforming the European asylum system, stressing that the Croatian presidency was working committedly on reaching a comprehensive solution with the new European Commission, which is preparing draft package of migration and asylum measures.
The state secretary went on to address the topic of a social Europe in a digital world, fighting antisemitism, racism and hate in Europe, and the Council’s measures against money laundering. In a discussion on the rule of law in Poland, Brnjac underscored that the Council was closely following the developments, expressing hope that the continuation of talks between the Commission and Poland would yield results.
Additionally, the state secretary answered questions by MEPs for the Council regarding the EU’s priorities for the 64th session on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, scheduled for March in New York, as well as steps the Council is taking to prevent illegal pet trade.