State Secretary Andreja Metelko-Zgombić on Tuesday attended a meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC).
The ministers exchanged views on the European Council meeting of 16-17 December, with an emphasis on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enhancing preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises, energy prices, defence and security.
European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič presented the Commission’s work programme for 2022, reported on the EU-UK relations and reflected on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
As part of the annual rule of law dialogue, the Council held a country-specific discussion with a focus on the situation in Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, and Lithuania. Metelko-Zgombić presented Croatia’s activities in advancing and implementing the institutional and legislative frameworks, with an emphasis on efficient judiciary, the fight against corruption, and media pluralism. She underlined that efficient judiciary, fighting corruption, and digitalization were integrated into national and sectoral strategic documents, including the National Recovery Plan, as priority goals.
During the discussion on the enlargement policy, Metelko-Zgombić reiterated Croatia’s support for the European perspective of the six Western Balkan countries and the continuation of enlargement. In order for the process to be successful, it needs to be credible, she stressed, underscoring the importance of achieving results in key areas such as the rule of law, justice reform, fundamental rights, human and minority rights, and democratic institutions, as well as the importance of contributing to regional cooperation, developing and fostering good-neighbourly relations, and creating a constructive atmosphere to overcome the legacy of war. Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the state secretary emphasized the necessity of amending the Election Act to allow for legitimate representation of constituent peoples and non-discriminatory participation of all citizens in the following year’s election.
Metelko-Zgombić underlined Croatia’s strong support for launching accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible, holding intergovernmental conferences with Montenegro and Serbia in December, as well as for liberalizing the visa regime for Kosovo.
Finally, the Council approved conclusions on enhancing preparedness, response capability and resilience to future crises.