Ahead of the official ceremony marking Croatia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will be attended by the entire European Commission, some 60 correspondents from Brussels from all member states have arrived in Croatia.
The foreign press were greeted at the National University Library in Zagreb by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who noted that Croatia’s EU presidency is coming in an extremely interesting and delicate period for the European Union due to the numerous ongoing processes that are unfolding. Plenković said that each one of these issues will require Croatia’s action and commitment.
The Croatian Prime Minister also outlined four pillars of Croatia’s program during its presidency, which are: growth and development, internal and external security, stronger interconnectedness among EU member states and their neighbors, especially in terms of transport, energy and digital infrastructure, and a globally influential European Union.
"The goal is to assert the influence of the European Union on the global scene. To use the leverage and the power that we have, by being a group of countries that has created an unprecedented and inextricable network of mutual relations and support, and therefore the activities in this area are also in our focus," Plenković said.
The prime minister also noted a number of political issues that Croatia's presidency will also focus on, starting with finalizing Brexit: "We will work together with the commission, together with Michel Barnier, on the mandate of the negotiating framework for the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, given that the transition period is only a period of eleven months, we will try to approach this issue in a comprehensive but still realistic manner, so as to attain the required objectives."
The final issue addressed was the Multiannual Financial Framework, which Plenković described as the most important political issue in terms of the EU's future.
"I think the real challenge is how to find the balance between those, let’s say four positions, which I can group into the initial proposal of Juncker's commission. Then the position of several member states who are net payers, who more conservative, more reserved in terms of the total volume of the GNI. The position of the larger group of countries, the so-called friends of cohesion countries, which would like to have more money for traditional or treaty based policies. And then finally the fourth position, which is the most ambitious position of the European Parliament," Plenković concluded.
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