We were delighted to welcome Ambassador Goran Štefanić Deputy Permanent Representative | Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU. This presentation covered a wide range of topics surrounding the priorities of the future Croatian presidency of the European Union set to take office in January 2020. Particularly focusing on inclusivity and building a climate-neutral green, fair and strong Europe.
With the beginning of the 5-year institutional cycle, especially with the new Commission set to take office on the 1st of December, it is clear that the Presidency comes at a special time. The priorities and themes of the upcoming Presidency are closely aligned with President-elect von der Leyen’s Political guidelines. This is apparent in the Presidency’s PRES agenda which will be built on four overarching priorities being an influential Europe that develops, connects and protects. It is however evident that the EU is faced with a variety of challenges, especially with the economic differences and diverging development perspectives present between and within member states. For this reason, inclusivity is key as no one must be left behind when it comes to technological and digital advances. The future Croatian Presidency will advocate for a Europe based on common values and respect of differences, a goal echoed in the motto “A strong Europe in a world of challenges”.
The European Green Deal will not only be at the heart of the new commission but also at the centre of the Presidency. It is regarded as a vital response to one of the greatest challenges of the modern world. The future Presidency sets to promote activities aimed at strengthening the fight against climate change and the EU’s global role as a leader in low carbon transition. Therefore, Croatia is determined to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.Once the Green Deal published, discussion will be initiated immediately as a means to allow member states to express their views on the Commission’s strategy. It is also important to note that Ursula’s von der Leyen’s ambition of leading on the issue of single-use plastic as well as tackling micro-plastic goes hand in hand with Croatia’s priority to protect marine environment. Inclusivity will also be an integral part of the Green Deal as reflected in the energy sector whereby a clean energy transition will take into consideration regional needs. This priority will directly help build a Europe that develops.
In terms of innovation, Horizon Europe which is the next research and innovation programme will be a key aspect of the Croatian Presidency. This programme will surpass the financing ensured within national programs, therefore, this instrument is not only attractive for European innovators and researchers but also beyond Europe on an international level. With its focus on finding solutions to societal and industrial challenges Horizon Europe directly contributes to improving all areas of European society and economy. This is in line with the Presidency’s priorities of ensuring progress thus building a Europe that develops and connects, as well as building an influential Europe by strengthening relations with global competitors.
The Common European project does,however, face a variety of challenges both internally and externally. Similarly, to its predecessor, the Croatian Presidency must aim to make progress in the area of migration policy, and reinforce cooperation with third countries in the framework of a Europe that protects. This also includes becoming more effective in the fight against terrorism as well as reinforcing the EU’s capabilities concerning hybrid threats, such as cybersecurity. In terms of reducing internal threats, it is clear that building a future long term strategy on industry based on a continuous dialogue with industries is of utmost importance. This is to be achieved through the organisation of side events as well as by inviting industry representatives to council working groups. The future Presidency also recognises that the synergy of industrial strategy and the Green Deal is an important topic. As it is apparent that the transition towards a climate-neutral Europe will present both challenges and opportunities to industries.
The aim of building an influential Europe seeks to give the EU a stronger voice externally. The future Presidency will strive for a responsible approach towards neighbouring countries and continue a credible and effective enlargement policy.As a result, there will be a special focus on the Western Balkans, with the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb to take place in May 2020 as one of the key Presidency events. In the area of trade, the EU must find a balance in trade relations with important partners such as the US and China. The EU is interested in maintaining traditionally good transatlantic relations, as a result, the future Presidency will try to keep the positive agenda focusing on areas where there are mutual interests. Although cooperation between the EU and China is progressing, there are still several issues particularly when it comes to market access, forced technology transfer and subsidization.
To conclude the future CroatianPresidency is determined to deliver results and effectively deal with thenumerous challenges that lie ahead. Buildinga stronger Europe whether it be in the sector of climate action,digitalisation, innovation or trade must be an inclusive process. As it is imperative that no member state is leftbehind, and that differences are respected. The priorities of Croatia will beclosely aligned with those of the commission particularly when it comes to theGreen Deal. As the Presidency is determined to ensure a successful transitiontowards becoming the first climate-neutral continent. Similarly, Horizon Europe will act as a catalyst for Europe to lead the way in thesector of innovation. Finally, Croatia has ambitious goals and is honouredto steer the common European project for the first half of 2020.
Ambassador Deputy Permanent Representative | Permanent Representation of Croatia to the EU
Goran Štefanić, Ambassador and professional diplomat since 1996, is Croatia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the European Union. Prior to taking up this post he was Deputy Chief of Mission in the Croatian Embassy in Paris (2010 – 2013). He was Head of Minister’s Office (2009 - 2010) and Deputy Head of Minister’s Office (2008 - 2009), in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration in Zagreb. His previous posts include Head of the Section for Annual National Plan in the Department for NATO (2004-2006), Head of Office of the State Secretary for Political Affairs (2006-2008) and Head of Service for Analysis and Information (2009). He was posted in the Croatian Embassy in Sweden, Stockholm (2002 – 2004) and in the Croatian Consulate General in Italy, Trieste (2000 – 2002). Ambassador Štefanić holds a Master degree in Political Science and is a graduate of Croatian MFA Diplomatic Academy.