CROATIA TAKES OVER THE ROTATING PRESIDENCY
Croatia, who has joined the EU in 2103, takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020. 

Croatian Government has defined the priorities as “Europe that develops, connects economically, that is energy-wise, infrastructure-wise, Europe that protects and is influential on the global scene”.  Craotian priorites reflect those of the new European Commission and are summed up in the motto: “A strong Europe in a challenging world”.

The 2020 Croprez will oversee the conclusion of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which is probably the most important responsibility in the coming six months. 

 Although Croatia is the member of the 17 - strong Member State group “Friends of Cohesion”, 
Advocating the same percentage as existing now for the Cohesion policy, a strict neutrality is required. Bearing in mind that  Finnish presidency proposed the modest rise in the Cohesion portofolio, Croatia will probably build on that. 
 
Another event that inevitably falls within the 6 months rotating Croatian presidency is Brexit. Whereas it is uncontested  that French politician, the Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier is the head of the process and will lead the complex negotiations in the years to come, a certain amount of coordination in the final stage of the EU-UK divorce among the Member States shall be required and Croatia will provide it.  

Demographic changes in Europe is the genuine priority of PM Plenković’s Government. Challenges related to demographic changes are on the agenda of both old and new Member States, albeit differently. In the old ones they are related to the social integration of new waves of migrants, whereas in the new ones the main concern is the depopulation of some regions  and the brain drain.  

Croatia itself is a part of the Western Balkans region and advocates the European perspective of all the countries that belonged to the former socialist Yugoslavia plus Albania. Plenković’s Government and indeed all the political parties across the political spectrum, think that it was a historic mistake to halt the opening of membership negotiations with North Macedonia. The recent French veto echoed negatively among the Western Balkans membership hopefuls, and in many European capitals, and Zagreb will try to overturn it during the Zagreb summit scheduled during the Croprez.

Complexity of the presidency is a challenging excercise for the administration of a new country that has gained independence only 29 years ago. Whereas the capacity is in the different parts of the administration is mixed, there is very good understaning of the European union on the top. The Croprez is a part of Romania-Finland-Croatia trio, but Zagreb government accepted the help of Germany in training of officials that will be engaged in the next 6 months.