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Working breakfast organized by the Vlahovic Group for the business sector on HR PRES 2020

VG Policy Breakfast: “Croatia’s Council of the EU Presidency and the Business Sector”

Zagreb, 18 September 2019 – Preparations for HR PRES 2020 are well underway, and the clock is ticking for the business sector to engage and make its presence known. Therefore, Vlahovic Group has organized a working breakfast with the seasoned Ambassador Gordan Markotic, Head of HR PRES 2020 Secretariat at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Numerous industry representatives joined in and listened to a very insightful overview of the HR PRES 2020 preparations. Ambassador Markotic gave the industry some high-quality input necessary to understand the importance of the upcoming period.

“Draft program of the Presidency has gone through three rounds of consultation between State administration bodies and is expected to be approved by the Government in December” – said the Ambassador. He stated the program should not be publicly disclosed prematurely as Croatia has to closely monitor the Finnish Presidency in order to see which legislative files will spill over into the HR PRES period. Finland’s Presidency ends on December 31st, and January 1st, 2020 marks the start of HR PRES. Furthermore, all discussions regarding priorities will take the business sector needs into account, provided businesses to make use of their professional associations in the process. Another way for businesses to make use of HR PRES is to apply potential events for official political auspices of the Presidency.

Presiding over the Council of the EU first and foremost implies guarding the interest of the entire Union by fair and neutral intermediation between all member states. However, there are certain possibilities to nominate national priorities for the agenda, provided they are in compliance with other EU priorities. The main task of the Presidency is organizing and conducting Council meetings on all levels and configurations. The biggest portion of meetings will be held in Brussels, around 1400, with the Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU being the major player. Zagreb will host a summit in May, gathering all EU and Western Balkans leaders to discuss enlargement.

“Twelve informal Council meetings and eight ministerial conferences will be held in Croatia, on topics nominated by the host, i.e. Croatia” – stated Markotic. Furthermore, the Ambassador conveyed an important piece of information regarding four main HR PRES priorities:

  • Europe that grows evenly, sustainably and inclusively
  • Europe that connects
  • Europe that protects
  • Europe that is open and assertive

These terms clearly imply a lot of attention will go towards cohesion, digitalization, transport, energy, migration and enlargement. “One of the major objectives will, of course, be the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. It would be a huge success for Croatia to close the MFF file during HR PRES. Brexit also might prove to be a strategic challenge for HR PRES, depending on the conclusion of the process. If the so-called Hard Brexit happens, HR PRES will be there to remedy the repercussions, and if it is postponed, HR PRES will be there to take over the process. Nevertheless, Croatia will surely surmount all challenges and be deemed a successful presiding member state” – concluded Markotic, the key person in coordinating all preparatory actions for Croatia’s Council of the EU presidency, coming up in the first semester of 2020.


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