Government priorities

Priorities of the Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union 1 January – 30 June 2020

A strong Europe in a world of challenges

From 1st January to 30th June 2020 Croatia will preside of the Council of the European Union for the first time. During this six months period Croatia will direct the work of the Council, building cooperation and agreements between member states in the spirit of consensus and mutual understanding.

Croatian presidency arrives in a period of significant changes to the EU, at the beginning of a new institutional and legislative cycle following the forming of new compositions of European institutions, as well as challenges brought by the process of United Kingdom’s withdraval from the EU.

Uneven economic development, climate changes, increased migrations, spread of disinformation and growing populism are some of the challenges of today’s world, and our citizens rightfully expect solutions to them. They can only be given by a strong Europe. In this, our unity is our greatest strength.

In order to move the EU and its benefits closer the citizens, we will encourage strengthening the dialogue, including through the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Following the guidelines of the new Strategic program of the EU 2019-2024, Croatian priorities and guidelines, in accordance with the program of Romania-Finland-Croatia trio, Croatia has prepared its six month presidency program based on four priorities under the motto “Strong Europe in a World of Challenges”:

  • A Europe that develops
  • A Europe that connects
  • A Europe that protects
  • A Europe that is globally influential

Croatian presidency will also consider priorities and program of the new European Commission in its work.

An ambitious, balanced and sustainable Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU for 2021-2027 period is a precondition for accomplishing our goals. Croatian presidency will advocate to achieve an  agreement as early as possible which will enable timely implementation of all policies and programs of the EU, with a mind on continuous development of a strong Europe in a world of constant changes and challenges.

1. A EUROPE THAT DEVELOPS: Balanced and sustainable development of the Union and member states

European Union, its economy and labour market, in the time of fourth industrial revolution are facing new global challenges and demographic changes. In these circumstances, further integration of the common market and encouraging digitalization of business, investment in innovation and research, greater availability of high-quality and lifelong learning, as well as developing skills adapted to future jobs are a guarantee of EU’s competitiveness. Increasing the quality of life the Union’s citizens demands continuous improvement of policies which create better working and living conditions and contribute to protection of the environment and combating climate change. Therefore, Croatian presidency will advocate for balanced, sustainable and inclusive development of the Union which takes into account specificities and needs of all member states, their regions and citizens.

Balanced regional development

  • Decreasing the differences between member states, supporting economic and social cohesion and convergence
  • Strengthening the economic and monetary union
  • Using the potentials of macro-regional cooperation
  • Establishing equal quality of products on markets of all member states

More satisfied and vital society

  • Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, including ensuring the balance of work and private life
  • Establishing measures for stopping negative demographic trends
  • Promoting gender equality, and strengthening the position of women in society and labour market
  • Creating better opportunities for youth, especially in rural areas
  • Promoting lifelong healthcare

Strengthening competitiveness and skills

  • Further integration of common market and digitalization of business
  • Strengthening European industry’s competitiveness and small and medium business
  • Modernization of agriculture and rural areas
  • Balanced mobility of scientists and researchers, promoting quality and lifelong learning and developing skills for jobs of the future

Protecting the environment and fight against climate change

  • Discussion on green Europe, including in the context of sustainable growth and development
  • Effective and ambitious implementation of the Paris agreement, with financially just transition to low-carbon and circular economy
  • Protecting biodiversity, sea environment and coastal areas from pollution, efficient water and waste management
  • Promoting sustainable forms of tourism and sustainability of coastal and island communities (small-scale fishing, infrastructure)

2. A EUROPE THAT CONNECTS: Networked economy and fulfilled potentials

In an increasingly connected world, progress of the EU depends on interconnectivity of its economy and maximum fulfillment of its infrastructural and human potentials. Existing differences within the EU regarding the quality of infrastructure and coverage by traffic, energy, telecommunication and digital networks restrain its global competitiveness. In order to achieve full social, economic and territorial cohesion it is necessary to further develop traffic, energy and digital infrastructure and connectivity. Croatian presidency will encourage policies aimed at infrastructural connectivity of the Union, as well as bringing its citizens together, primarily through education, culture and sports.

Common European traffic area

  • Ensuring appropriate financing for further building of infrastructure networks
  • Improving trans-European traffic networks and taking forward the enlargement to neighbouring regions
  • Digitalization and innovation in all branches of the traffic sector

High quality and secure data infrastructure

  • Establishing a functional common digital market and decreasing digital gaps
  • Creating conditions for full functioning and security of 5G networks
  • Starting discussion on legal and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and defining standards for new technologies

Integrated energy market

  • Further establishing and implementing the Energy union
  • Increasing energy security (infrastructure and diversification, including renewable and low-carbon energy sources)
  • Promoting the role and potentials of European islands in transition to clean energy

Stronger connection among EU citizens

  • Further strengthening mobility of students, researchers, teachers and other staff
  • Increasing the mobility of culture and creative sector
  • Promoting European cultural heritage
  • Intensifying dialogue with youth
  • Using sport for connecting people of all generations, boosting informal skills, especially in youth, and promoting healthy lifestyle

Safer union and its citizens

For the EU, security of its citizens is of utmost importance. Therefore we will strengthen internal security, efficiently protect external borders, ensure full interoperability of information systems, and increase the resilience to outside and cybernetic threats. Finding an all-encompassing solution for sustainable and efficient migration and asylum policy remains our common goal. Croatian presidency will be focused on further development of the Union as a space of freedom, safety and justice based on common values, democracy and the rule of law.

Strengthening internal security

  • Work on strategic EU guidelines for freedom, security and justice
  • Cooperation between member states in the fight against organized crime, money laundering and financing terrorism
  • Protecting financial interests of the EU and members states and combating fraudulent activities
  • Measures against spreading online content which promotes discrimination, violent extremism and terrorism
  • Increasing the level of inter-operability between information systems in the areas of justice and internal affairs
  • Strengthening the Union Civil Protection Mechanism

Protecting freedom and democracy

  • Return to complete and efficient functioning of the Schengen Area
  • Protection of personal data and privacy
  • Comprehensive approach to the rule of law and strengthening democratic principles and fundamental values of the EU

Comprehensive and sustainable migration policy

  • Increased surveillance of EU’s external borders and interoperability between relevant information systems
  • Coordinated and comprehensive approach to both external and internal aspects of migrations, including lawful migrations
  • Reform of the Common European Asylum System
  • Deepening the cooperation with third countries, including Southeast Europe

Increasing resilience to hybrid threats

  • Combating all forms of hybrid threats and malicious cybernetic activities
  • Protection of public spaces and critical infrastructure
  • Suppressing false news, intolerance and disinformation on digital platforms
  • Increasing expert and technological capacities in cybernetic security domain

4. A EUROPE THAT IS GLOBALLY INFLUENTIAL: Leader in the neighborhood and world

Member states are best equipped to deal with challenges of the 21st century through the framework and power of the European Union. Only further development of capabilities and instruments for collective action will reinforce its role as a leading global actor. Strengthening multilateralism, fulfilling the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and promoting European values and interests, remain main guidelines of EU’s foreign policy. Its credibility in international relations is also reflected towards its own neighborhood, on both east and south, including Southeast Europe (Western Balkans) in its immediate surroundings. Croatian presidency will advocate for continuation of efficient and credible enlargement policy, as a contribution towards stability, security and further economic development and cohesion of the European continent.

Leading international actor

  • Promoting multilateralism and international order based on international law and rules
  • Promoting fundamental values in EU’s foreign policy
  • Leading role in combating climate change
  • Preservation and strengthening of multilateral trade system

Global partner

  • Promoting international development policy aimed at sustainable development and eliminating poverty
  • Strategic support, encouraging reforms and strengthening resilience in eastern and southern neighborhood
  • Revitalizing transatlantic relations
  • Deepening relations with Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as EU’s strategic partners

Guarantee of prosperity and stability in Southeast Europe

  • Encouraging continued reform processes in Southeast Europe and regional cooperation
  • Continuation of credible and effective enlargement policy, based on confirmed European perspective of candidates and potential candidates from Southeast Europe together with complete fulfillment of defined criteria
  • “EU – Western Balkans” summit in Zagreb

Capability to respond to crises

  • Safeguarding peace and security through early action in conflict prevention
  • Developing operational capabilities and instruments for fast response to crises
  • Strengthening security and defense policies of the EU
  • Continuation of close and substantial cooperation between EU and NATO