28 years after international recognition, Croatia has opened a new chapter. With the first minutes of January, Croatia took over a six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, six and a half years after becoming a member of the EU.
Croatia as the youngest member took over EU presidency for the first time, previous after Finland and will preside over the EU Union from January the 1st to June 30th, 2020. “A strong Europe in a world of challenges” is the motto Croatia has chosen for its presidency. The six-month presidency program is based on four themes or pillars – A Europe that develops; A Europe that connects; A Europe that protects; and An influential Europe.
The official start of the presidency will be marked on January the 9th with the arrival of the European Commission members in Zagreb and a concert at the Croatian National Theater. On this occasion, there will be a change of guard at Markov Square and on the first day of the new year, members of the Cravatica Academy hang a large red tie on the monument of Ban Jelačić in Zagreb and ceremonial ties will receive another 46 monuments of Croatian greats in the center of Zagreb. The Croatian Post has issued a commemorative stamp and the building of the National and University Library, where most of the events will take place, is already in the theme of EU presidency.
Zagreb lives its European story, and this is an ideal opportunity to show itself the world in the best light. Over the next 6 months, more than 1500 events will take place in Zagreb and the lights will be directed most of all to Zagreb, which has the opportunity to show once again that it is the center of serious events. There will be more than 165 meetings in Zagreb alone. The most important and highlight of the presidency will be May 7th - the summit to discuss EU enlargement.
During this 6-month period, 2 summits, 12 informal ministerial Council meetings, 8 ministerial conferences and more than 100 professional and work-related events are held in the Republic of Croatia. Croatia will lead the work of the Council, building co-operation and agreement between Member States in a spirit of consensus and mutual respect.The Presidency has a rich cultural and promotional aspect - the official logo and slogan of the Presidency have been selected, the opening ceremonies in Zagreb and Brussels are held, and special cultural programs will be staged at more than 50 locations around the world. The Presidency's cultural agenda is linked to Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture in 2020, in order to show Europe and the world the richness of its unique cultural heritage in this historic year.
It is often said that only after the successful completion of its first Presidency of the EU Council, a country becomes a true Member State of the European Union. This is a certain maturity test for the Croatian government.
On 8 January, the day before the EC meeting, around 60 correspondents from EU member-states from Brussels will arrive in Zagreb. They will also visit Plitvice, Rijeka and Opatija, Split. It is a common practice for each Presidency to invite a group of correspondents at the beginning of their term to present priorities and a program for the Presidency and to familiarize them with the sights of the country.
The new presidency will also be marked in Brussels with a concert taking place on 15 January, which is the 28th anniversary of Croatia’s international recognition.
The presidency is seen as an opportunity to promote the country-in-chair and make local society more sensitive to EU-related topics.