Croatia has now taken up the six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU (1 January 2020 – 30 June 2020).
Together with Romania (Presidency January 2019-July 2019) and Finland (1 July 2019 – 31 December 2019), Croatia forms part of the ninth Presidency Trio, which announced their joint programme in November 2018. The Croatian Presidency will be followed by the tenth Presidency trio, which consist of Germany (1 July 2020 – 31 December 2020), Portugal (1 January 2021- 30 June 2021) and Slovenia (July 1 2021-31 December 2021).
The six-month Croatian presidency programme is based on national priorities in line with the EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 and also draws from the Trio Programme. The motto “A strong Europe in a world of challenges”, encapsulates the vision of the Croatian presidency and is supported by four broad policy objectives or 'pillars':
- A Europe that develops (balanced and sustainable development of the Union and its Member States);
- A Europe that connects (networked economy and used potentials);
- A Europe that protects (a safer Union and its citizens); and
- An influential Europe (global leader and strong partner to neighbours).
With regards to research and innovation, the Presidency will focus two priorities. The first priority will be to advance negotiations on Horizon Europe, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EURATOM Research and Training Programme, ITER, and EU Partnerships. Discussions on these areas will be dependent on outcomes from the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) as well as Brexit. The second priority is advancing the role of research and innovation for future jobs, possibly linked to artificial intelligence and space, and on 'brain circulation'. It is expected that the role of research and innovation for future jobs will be debated at a policy event in May 2020.
Work on the area of 'brain circulation' within Europe as well as the rest of the world, has already started with a stakeholder event held in October 2019 and an ERAC workshop held in December 2019. The outcomes of these events will feed into the informal Competitiveness Council (COMPET) meeting with Research Ministers next month. There will also be a dedicated workshop at the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) Presidency Conference in April where they are expected to announce a dedicated "Zagreb Call for Action". The hope is to develop ideas which would feed into the first work programme of Horizon Europe.
There will also be dedicated conferences on Social Sciences and Humanities (March 2020), Health (April 2020), and the WIRE Conference (April 2020). In addition to these there will be a number of events organised by other ministries (such as public health and cultural heritage), throughout the six-month period. Moreover, there will be two formal COMPET Meetings.