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Croatia takes over EU Presidency, faces "challenging" 2020

EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (R) and European Council President Charles Michel (L) during their meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, 09 January 2020, at the start of the country's six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.

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Croatia officially assumed for the first time since it joined the bloc, the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January 2020 for a six-months period, succeeding Finland.
In what national media and politicians have described as a “historic event” for Croatia, the country has chosen the motto “A strong Europe in a world of challenges”, which accurately reflects the rather challenging time the European bloc is going through.
During its six-month Presidency, Croatia will need to collaborate with the recently appointed European Commission, deal with UK’s departure from the Union and the €60 bn gap Brexit will bring, as well as with the overall uncertainty over future EU – UK relations.
European integration of the Western Balkans is another matter that Croatia has already declared that it will push for its resolution. While the enlargement conundrum is in France’s hands, which is blocking the opening of negotiation talks with North Macedonia and Albania, Croatia is eager to resolve the political stalemate.
While when taking over the Presidency countries are expected to set aside their national interests to promote the pan-european ones, PM Plenković is trying to draw Brussels’ attention in the demographic challenge that the continent is facing.
Croatia has described its national priorities for the 2020 EU Council Presidency through a 50 pages document, where it divided its priorities to four pillars: A Europe that connects; A Europe that develops; A Europe that protects; and an influential Europe, which coincide with von der Leyen’s goals, allowing the two institutions to work closely.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the College of Commissioners went to Zagreb on Thursday for the inauguration of the Croatian Presidency and the Commission’s chief will hold a press conference with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday.
On his Thursday meeting with the PM, European Council’s President Charles Michel announced that he will “propose a compromise between the so – called frugal countries and the friends of cohesion“, to find common ground in the negotiations over the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027.
 

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