The Slovak Perspective of the EU Council Presidency
On 25th of April 2016, the Department of International Relations and European Integration from the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration hosted the open lecture on the EU Council Presidency – The Slovak Perspective of the EU Council Presidency – with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovakia in Bucharest.
The event was the second from a series of reunions with ambassadors of the European Union Member States in Romania, having the overarching theme The rotating EU Council Presidency. The subject is of utmost importance for Romania, that will hold the Council Presidency in the second half of 2019 for the first time since its accession to the EU, and its promotion started in the academic environment during the fall of 2015 through the Jean Monnet ModuleEU*Ro Media. European Standards, Romanian Application: The Media Roadmap for Romania’s EU Council Presidency.
The EU*Ro Media Module is a partner of DRIIE regarding the organization of the series of reunions taking place over the next three years which is in itself an important step in the implementation of the project’s aim to bring the subject into the public opinion’s attention with the help of Romanian journalists trained in investigating and reporting European Affairs.
Overview of the event
The Open lecture was given by His Excellency Mr. Ján Gábor, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Romania, to over 30 attendees from the academic environment who listened to an overall presentation of the Slovak’s experience in preparing the agenda for the EU Council Presidency that will be taken over from the Netherlands in the second semester of 2016.
H.E. Mr. Ján Gábor initiated the talk with a brief presentation of Slovakia’s efforts for European integration and went ahead with further details on how the membership status positively influenced the development of the Central-European state and how it enhanced the country’s profile in the world. He made it clear that the mandate Slovakia has to carry out is both an opportunity for the country to demonstrate its maturity as a reliable partner for the other member states in the EU and a challenge which is even greater in the present volatile political context. The refugee crisis, the terrorist threat and the prospect of the United Kingdom leaving the EU complicates the framework in which Slovakia has to steer the Union-wide agenda and further the progress on issues of sectoral concern such as the energy union, neighbourhood cooperation, competitiveness, etc. However, Slovakia is confident that the Council Presidency will be easier to manage if it has got the support of the V4 countries and most importantly, of Romania with which it maintains much treasured cultural and economic ties.
Furthermore, H.E. Mr. Ján Gábor provided the audience with details of the EU Council Presidency corps’ training, the number and location of future inter-ministerial meetings and events planned for the second half of 2016 and the rationale behind the budgetary spending for the preparation of the Slovak Council Presidency. Last but not least, the Ambassador promoted the five priorities Slovakia intends to work on during the six month period: a Union of employment, growth and competitiveness; a Union of opportunities for its citizens; an energy union with prospective climate policy; a Union of freedom, security and justice and a Union as a strong global player/actor. These priorities have been agreed and included in the eighteen-month programme after close talks with the other member states of the Presidency trio, the Netherlands and Malta.
Open lecture outcomes
The meeting with His Excellency Mr. Ján Gábor revealed, in the first place, the similarities between Slovakia and Romania, but also the origin and nature of the relations sustained between the two states. Secondly, the meeting emphasized that the historical, cultural and economic ties shared with Romania are sound ground for enhanced cooperation in the future and also that Slovakia has always been a strong supporter of Romania in the EU and thus its ally in the particular institutional setting of the Council. Finally, a formula on how a less influential member state could make its views heard and implemented in a Union dominated by greater economic and political players was suggested to the audience: alliance formation between member states sharing common opinions and/or drawing on older consolidated partnerships. Although there is not a precise recipe on which a state could maximize its influence in the EU, the strategy employed by Slovakia could be used as an example for Romania.