What can Croatia achieve with the EU Presidency?

On 1 January 2020 Croatia, the EU's youngest member, took over the EU Council presidency from Finland. The media outline the challenges the country faces and weigh up its chances of mastering them.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

Lead the EU out of the Brexit fog

The EU Council presidency provides an opportunity to make EU enlargement a top priority, the Irish Times stresses:

“French president Emmanuel Macron says enlargement should be frozen until the EU's rules and accession process are revamped. While reform in both areas is important, it should come alongside - not instead of - a renewed commitment to expansion. ... Without this, why should Serbia and Kosovo make the tough compromises needed to establish normal relations? ... While Croatia is at the helm, the EU should peer through the fog of Brexit and set a bold course for future growth rather than drifting aimlessly towards decline.”

L'Echo (BE) /

New psychodramas in the offing

Croatia is entering a wasp's nest, L'Echo worries:

“Take Brexit: Croatia, which is taking over the Union's rotating presidency, has made it a top priority. The UK will become a third state on February 1 and London is giving itself eleven months to negotiate the terms of a new trade and strategic relationship with the EU. A laughable time frame for such contentious negotiations. Does this cocktail herald new psychodramas? Not to mention Croatia's second priority: enlargement. So we'll be rehashing things with the western Balkans and reopening the deep divide between a Europe which advocates strategic enlargement and a Europe which considers it strategic to put a stop to it.”

Delo (SI) /

Foreign and domestic problems

Croatia is in for a challenging six months, Delo predicts:

“Despite the fact that Zagreb has many unresolved issues with Belgrade and Sarajevo, Croatia wants progress in the area of enlargement in the next six months. The French veto and calls for a new method for the enlargement process before the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia have raised serious doubts about the credibility of the EU's promises. ... On the other hand, Croatia must show that strong nationalist forces in society have no influence on its European policy and that it does not violate the EU's basic principles in the protection of its external borders.”

Novi list (HR) /

The acid test

This small country has taken a lot upon itself in 2020, Novi list notes:

“The EU Council presidency in the first half of the year, the vice-presidency of the European Commission, the organisation of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Rijeka as European Capital of Culture ... This year European topics will dominate politics and public life. But 2020 will also be a test in which Croatia demonstrates the ability - or lack thereof - to shoulder key tasks on the stage of European and world politics.”